Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northwest Arkansas provides compassionate volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children. CASA’s commitment to ensuring a consistent voice, safe home and promising future for children in foster care goes the distance during the holiday season with a Christmas wish program.
“We have about 450 individuals and community groups,” CASA of NWA Program Director Shelley Hart explained.
To say it takes an army to fulfill the Christmas wishes of the the nearly 600 foster children served by CASA of NWA an understatement.
“I feel really sad that there are this many children in foster care right now,” Hart shared. “But I feel that every child deserves to have what my child has for Christmas, whether or not they’re a foster child or not. And I think it’s really important for us to just remember that.”
That is why the folks at CASA work diligently with their partners in the community to ask the foster children what they really want for Christmas to make it special and then play the role of Santa to fill the items on their lists. Cara Conly from First Western Bank coordinates all the volunteers from the company to fulfill 14 Christmas wish lists.
“It is super easy to get people involved,” Volunteer Cara Conly said. “All of our employees love to do this. They look forward to it every year. They ask me before we even have the list and, often times, we have some that miss out on the opportunity and want to join later.”
From summer on, Hart spends the better part of her time working with the sponsors and volunteers — like Conly and her fellow employees at First Western Bank — to fill the building with gifts to be distributed. Conly says it also serves as a good reminder for her own family and others about the reason for the season.
“Christmas is about serving and giving to others,” Conly explained. “And really Christmas can become kind of selfish if we let it be and this is a great way for our kids, and even myself, to see that really it’s about other people.”
“These kids are just kids too, even though they’re in foster care,” Hart offered. “It’s through no fault of their own and they deserve what my kids have.
If you would like to help fulfill a Christmas wish list, you will have to wait until next year. It is a unique problem to have, but CASA has more than enough sponsors this year. The organization could still use your help in the future though. Click here to learn how you can get on the list for the next time around.