Spreading seasonal cheer to children in need
By: Samantha Koepp-Stemplinger
The holidays are a time for families to come together and celebrate their traditions. Most of us have a general idea of whom we will be with and what we will be doing year after year; it is our “Forever Christmas.” While it can be stressful for us with shopping, cooking and preparing to have patience for visiting with extended family, for the most part, we look forward to the break from work and school while spending time with our loved ones.
However, for the children in foster care who do not have even have a “Forever Home,” it is understandably an un-enjoyable time for them. Many do not know where they will be, much less if they will see their family. What should be a time of happiness for these children is instead a reminder of being separated from all they know and love.
Those who want to share their holiday cheer with the foster children in our community can do so through contributing to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Coastal Bend, a local organization that trains volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children in the foster care system and be a constant for these children during their time in care.
Not only do CASAs speak up for these children in court, they spend time with the children, so they get to know what their needs are and, more than anything, be friends for these children who feel like they have nothing and no one who cares for them. These children most likely have not experienced the holidays like most of us have, even before their time in foster care, so having a CASA can give a child the opportunity to experience a happy, joyful Christmas by knowing there is at least one person who will be there for them during this stressful time.
Every year, CASA receives donated items from individuals and businesses for CASA volunteers to give to foster children. This year, SAMES Ford, a business that has been a continuous supporter of CASA throughout the years, is hosting the first Santa Cause CASA Toy Drive for Children in Foster Care on Saturday, Dec. 19. The toy drive will be held at the dealership at the Henry Ford Road entrance from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public is asked to donate unwrapped new items for newborns to 18-year-olds. Santa will be onsite to take pictures and thank those who drop off donations. Those interested in providing gifts for specific children can contact Diana at CASA at 361-884-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers are needed year-round to be CASAs. There are more than 700 children in the foster care system in the Coastal Bend, and only 330 of those children have a CASA to advocate for their best interests. For more information on becoming a CASA, visit www.coastalbendcasa.org or call 361-884-2272. The next day training (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) begins Dec. 8, and the next evening training (5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) begins Jan. 18.