CASA Organizes Record-Breaking Gift Drive for Foster Youth
Source: CASA of Santa Barbara County
With social distancing guidelines and added safety protocols in place, CASA of Santa Barbara County's annual "Christmas Wishes" gift drive still saw record-breaking donations made this year with 600 total gifts donated.
An additional $6,565 in cash and gift card donations also supported the effort.
According to CASA of Santa Barbara County Executive Director Kim Colby Davis, the annual "Christmas Wishes" gift collection has been a project for over 14 years but has never had a year with so many children in need.
"We have been overwhelmed with the community's response to this year's event," Ms. Davis said. "When we started this years ago, we collected close to 100 gifts. Today, we are happy to announce that more than 600 gifts have been safely collected and donated to children in need this holiday season."
By working in collaboration with Child Welfare Services and many partner agencies, CASA has been able to fill the "Christmas Wishes" of every child in the court's care due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
"We could not do a project of this magnitude without the support of our wonderful community. We had more than 37 groups and individuals who organized and provided gifts for all of the children in care," said Ms. Davis. "We do our annual gift drive a little bit different than most toy drives because we serve children from newborn to age 20. The variety of ages means that their wishes and needs are widely different, and a toy drive would not meet the needs of our tiniest and our older youth."
Amy Krueger, Deputy Director Adult and Children's Services for Santa Barbara County Dept. of Social Services added: "We are so incredibly grateful and thankful for our collaboration with CASA of Santa Barbara County in another successful year of the “Christmas Wishes” gift drive. This year more than ever, we want to make sure every child is matched with a gift that helps them feels loved, valued, and supported. This accomplishment would not be possible without the tremendous enthusiasm and dedication of CASA, as well as the extraordinary generosity of the volunteers and donors who made it all possible."
Collecting the "wishes" of nearly 600 kids is an effort on its own, which is only possible thanks to almost 300 CASA volunteers. In the case of the almost 200 children on CASA's waiting list, their county social worker made sure to learn each child's wishes. CASA of Santa Barbara County collected the "wishes" and then coordinated with the many service groups, business offices, companies, schools, and individuals looking for a positive way to give back during this challenging year.
"We didn't know what to expect this year as we embarked on the annual gift drive. We know that the pandemic has impacted so many in our community, and yet we had to try to make sure that children experienced the joy of a wish filled at Christmas," Ms. Davis said. "Our donors were just amazing! I can't even express how touched we are by the thoughtfulness of each gift. It's inspiring to see how the community understands how important it is to give each child something they need or especially wish for at Christmas".
CASA of Santa Barbara County's Associate Director of Donor Engagement, Kira Cosio, spent the last couple of weeks traveling to all parts of the County to collect the donated gifts while maintaining all County and CDC safety protocols. "Despite all of the setbacks of the year, it was amazing to see how generous people are! Our donors took so much pride in picking out the perfect gift; I loved seeing all of the different festive gift bags, fun toys, and adorable clothes they chose!" said Ms. Cosio. "The highlight for me was meeting with long time CASA supporters as well as new donors, even while we were wearing our masks, socially distant, or arranging a contactless pickup – we got the job done!"
CASA would like to thank every donor who contributed to the success of the gift drive this year. In addition to many individual donors and groups of friends or families, the following organizations took part in the annual "Christmas Wishes" drive: 30th Comptroller Squadron at VAFB, A G I A Affinity, Atlas Copco Santa Maria, American General Media, Child Support Services of Santa Barbara County, Conqs for Christ at Cabrillo Senior High School, DenMat, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Guild Mortgage Company, Hacienda Realty, Hilton Garden Inn Lompoc, Junior League of Santa Barbara, Laguna Blanca School, Landmark Global, Kiwanis of Santa Maria – Noontime, "Martha's Angels" at the Probation Department, Mission Hope Cancer Center, Montecito Bank & Trust, Mountain View Elementary School, Ontraport, Pacific Central Coast Health Centers at Marian Regional Medical Center, Old Orcutt Barber Shop, RHS Helping Hands, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Tribal Elders, Sunburst Community, Titan Frozen Foods, Toyota of Lompoc, Toyota Of Santa Maria, UA Local 114, UCSB Kappa Alpha Theta, Vandenberg Air Force Base Civil Engineers, WAV Group. Many more individuals reached out and donated gifts or financial contributions that made the project so successful.
CASA of Santa Barbara County is deeply grateful to everyone for helping to achieve a record-breaking year, with nearly 600 wishes filled. The estimated value of gifts donated and distributed to children this year is $45,000. CASA of Santa Barbara County could never accomplish such incredible generosity alone – it was the community that made this happen for the children.
CASA of Santa Barbara County is a top volunteer agency with more than 300 local volunteers serving over 500 children. The Mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County is to assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for all abused and/or neglected children by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system. Last year, CASA of Santa Barbara County was selected as the top place to work on the Central Coast (small business) and the number one place to volunteer in Santa Maria, CA.
Volunteers are needed, and information on how to volunteer or support the CASA mission is available on our website at www.sbcasa.org