Southeast Texas schools collect money and toys for CASA kids’ Christmases

Southeast Texas schools collect money and toys for CASA kids’ Christmases

Some Beaumont Independent School District students and Lamar University algebra students are making Christmas merrier for children in foster care this year by collecting toys and donations for CASA’s annual toy drive.

When Lamar students delivered toys to the CASA of Southeast Texas office, Professor Gary Brice was there. Brice is very familiar with CASA of Southeast Texas — he and about 20 of his students recently participated in CASA’s Superhero 5K, and thought it would be a great idea to help the children that CASA serves with a Merry Christmas.

Brice contacted Eleanor Johnson, program director of CASA, about how his five college algebra classes could help.

“The Lamar algebra classes purchased Christmas gifts for Jefferson County children who are in foster care but are placed with relatives, who often receive no compensation from the state. This act of kindness alleviates a little of the financial responsibilities the families face when children are placed in their home. Now they can have a Merry Christmas in their own village,” said Johnson.

Brice reported that approximately 100 students participated in gathering money, looking over the list from the families and going out to purchase the toys. The five families that the students are helping have 12 children ranging in age from 11 months to 16 years. Students raised about $1,000 to present a happy Christmas.

Students gathered all the toys and made the delivery to CASA of Southeast Texas on Wednesday, Dec. 4, to the CASA office at 2449 Calder Ave.

CASA of Southeast Texas’ 2013 Toy Drive wrapped up Monday, Dec. 9. During the weeks preceding, hundreds of toys and gifts for children in foster care were collected by students at Monsignor Kelly High School, Smith Middle School, Ozen High School, West Brook High School, and Sallie Curtis Elementary School in Beaumont; Helena Park Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, and Nederland High School; and Port Neches-Groves High School in Port Neches. CASA staff picked up toys from the schools and gathered them at the CASA office on Calder Avenue in Beaumont. The drive provided a wonderful opportunity for students at the seven schools to help make Christmas bright for children that are victims of abuse or neglect. Over the course of two weeks, West Brook students alone collected gifts for 196 children 18 years old and younger.

Following the arrival of several hundred toys at the CASA office, staff sorted them by age group as they prepared for Phase 2, which began on Tuesday morning, Dec. 10, when the CASA volunteers came in to select toys and gifts for the children with whom they work, and did a little present wrapping.

The most rewarding part of this entire process is Phase 3, which is the actual delivery process. The CASA volunteers are still working as Santa’s helpers to distribute the gifts, helping to assure that these children who have already suffered so much will be remembered on Christmas Day.