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CASA Christmas project benefits children in foster care system

by Minden Press-Herald

Christmas is a special time of year, a time for families to gather and celebrate.

Christmas is also the season of giving, and when many think of giving, they think of giving to
those in need, especially children.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, is currently serving 40 foster children who have been removed from their home and placed into foster care because of abuse or neglect from someone in their family, Webster Parish CASA Supervisor Sandra Samuel said.

Every year around Christmas, CASA advocates and volunteers come together to help give these children memories of the holiday season during a difficult time.

“We do this through donations from the community,” Samuel said, “and Minden is overwhelmingly amazing when it comes to Christmas for these children.”

In October, letters are sent to foster parents of CASA children asking for the child’s shoe size, shirt size, pants size, what their dream gift would be and other things they’d like for Christmas. Through community donations, whether it’s in the form of a gift or a monetary contribution, CASA will fill the children’s wish list.

Right now, Samuel says they are serving children from one year of age to 17, 17 girls and 23 boys.
While they appreciate the overwhelming support of toys and things for the smaller children, the teens’ lists are the most difficult, she said.

“It’s a little bit harder for people to buy for teenagers,” she said. “People will come in and grab up the younger children just as quick as possible. It’s the teenagers that we struggle to buy for the most.”

If a contributor wishes to buy clothing for a child, Samuel says they can come in and get a specific list.

Samuel asks donors not to wrap the gifts; there will be a “wrapping party” at a later date for anyone interested in assisting.

Last year, the CASA office, located at 732 Main Street, was packed full of gifts for children. Thanks to the generosity of the Krewe de Ambassadeurs, she says, their krewe building was donated for use to store the gifts and wrap before the Dec. 19 delivery date.

“People can still bring gifts here (to the CASA office) and I’ll take it out there to the krewe building,” she said.

CASA is one of seven primary programs of the Volunteers for Youth Justice program, which provides youth “an opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility for their actions and teaching new positive behaviors…giving them a chance to begin again,” reports their website, www.vyjla.org.

CASA advocates, indicates the website, are “specially trained volunteers who serve as officers of the court and ‘friends’ to children in need. These volunteers are assigned by judges to speak on behalf of children who have been placed in foster care due to abuse or neglect.”

The deadline to bring gifts or donate money is Tuesday, Dec. 15.

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