Close to 200 children receiving their Christmas Wish List gifts
Christmas can be a disheartening time for children who are in the care and custody of the state. These children are separated from their parents, and often their extended families, for their own protection and placed in the foster care system.
CASA for Hunt County has conducted the Christmas Wish List Project for many years. Traditionally, the Hunt County children, who are assigned a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, make out a Wish List of the things they truly want for Christmas … just like any other child. These children ask for a variety of items – popular cartoon and superhero items, watches, crafts, games, building sets, headphones – and they also ask for socks and candy.
This year, each of the 195 Hunt County children who are in foster care during Christmas gave their CASA volunteer their Wish List, and each of those Wish Lists have been filled – ensuring the presents under these children’s trees will be the gifts they asked for.
“It is so absolutely heartwarming when the individuals, businesses, churches, and groups in Hunt County take these Lists and purchase the items the children want,” said Lori Cope, CASA for Hunt County executive director. “Some people took one or several Lists, and some businesses and groups took over 20 Lists. I cannot thank each of these Sponsors enough!”
The CASA for Hunt County Christmas Wish List Project begins with each child’s CASA volunteer sitting down with him or her, and filling out a Wish List. The CASA volunteer then brings each child’s Wish List to the CASA office. Then the call for Wish List Sponsors is made.
“The answers to the calls for Sponsors was fantastic, as usual,” Cope said. “This year we were at a point where all Wish Lists were taken, so we were putting Sponsors’ names on a waiting list. And sure enough, just when we thought the Wish List Project was at a close, another nine Hunt County children were removed from their abusive homes and entered the foster care system. Thankfully we had Sponsors and donated gifts for these children as well.”
Days before Christmas the CASA volunteers take their children’s gifts – purchased by the Wish List sponsors — to the foster homes. These gifts, just waiting to be opened on Christmas Eve or morning, let the children know they are special … and in the true spirit of Christmas … that someone loves them enough to give to them.
April designated as time to raise awareness about child abuse
Anytime a child is abused or neglected, it’s a tragedy – one that all too often scars victims for a lifetime.
Studies show that children who have suffered abuse or neglect are more likely to struggle in school, have run-ins with law enforcement, experience homelessness or abuse drugs or alcohol.
Research also shows that abused children are more apt to grow up to abuse their own kids.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and it’s a time for raising awareness that it takes communities and families working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families.
Every eight minutes a child in Texas becomes a victim of abuse or neglect, and every 41 hours a child in Texas dies from abuse or neglect.
In the United States, there are over 3 million cases of confirmed child abuse every year. Most all of these cases began with someone reporting a suspicion. After the suspicion or allegation is reported, it’s up to professionals to check through the facts.
If child abuse is suspected, call the Texas hotline at 800-252-5400 or go online to www.txabusehotline.org. Call with any facts you have such as the child’s or children’s names, where they live, etc., and then report what was seen or heard.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time when communities and families are encouraged to become knowledgeable about child abuse … what does it look like, what are the signs and symptoms, and what can be done.
For more information about types of abuse, neglect or exploitation of children, go online to www.txabusehotline.org.