Because the holidays can be especially difficult for kids in foster care, we try to make our CASA holiday celebration something special that our CASA youth look forward to year after year. 2019 was no exception, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of the many individuals and organizations who gave so much.

This is the fifth year that the OWLs, a local social organization, with the help of our local CASA High School Clubs have provided gifts – all specifically requested by the kids – for each of our youth. This year we had 155 youth assigned to CASAs in December, so that’s 155 gifts! The planning and coordination for this effort is extensive and begins early in the year when the OWLs board approves the project. Andrea Curtis then becomes a part of the CASA family, helping to plan, coordinate, and collect gift requests. In September, when initial gift requests start coming in from the CASAs, Andrea distributes the gift requests to the OWLs members and to the CASA clubs. During the holiday season, Andrea spends hours each week, assigning, coordinating, following up with questions, wrapping, and transporting the gifts to CASA. She double-checks every detail meticulously, determined make sure each gift is just right so that no one is disappointed. Our High School CASA Clubs also work hard assigning and collecting gifts from their club members and student body. By the day of the party, it’s a joy to see beautiful packages stacked from wall to wall in the conference room, knowing how much happiness they will bring.

This year, we were fortunate to have extra helpers, too! Bea Plutto, one of our dedicated non-advocate volunteers, baked dozens of cookies and supervised a cookie decorating station. She also made dipped pretzels for take-home treats for each child.  Carol Kalmanson, one of our CASAs, collected from a group of friends and family to donate pizzas to the cause – definitely a huge hit!  Chick-fil-a gave us a great discount, Wegman’s covered much of the food, and Weis Market sponsored the hot chocolate bar. For those weary from the season, Starbucks donated coffee for the event. Many of our new CASAs and our interns assisted at the party, and CASA Dominique Flowers delighted children and adults alike when he showed up as the Grinch!

Thank you to everyone for helping make this annual event special for our youth. We couldn’t have done it without you!