CASA Angel Tree brightens holidays for 168 Fayette children
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Christmas tree in the lobby of Chase Tower was decorated with unusual ornaments Thursday morning: 168 plain white envelopes were hung among the pine needles, mixed in with children’s drawings and laminated dog bones.
It took less than an hour for attendees at the 18th annual CASA Angel Tree lighting to pick all of the envelopes from the tree. Contained inside each envelope: a wish list from an abused or neglected child involved in the Fayette County family court system.
When attendees picked their name from the tree, they were choosing to “sponsor” that child for the holidays by purchasing them gifts from their wish list. For many of the children on the tree, their Angel Tree gifts will be the only ones they receive this December.
“This is what makes our community great,” said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, who spoke at the event and lit the Angel Tree with help from McBrayer PLLC Managing Member James Frazier III.
McBrayer has hosted the Angel Tree lighting since it began 18 years ago, and its employees always ensure no name is left on the tree.
Participants could also pick dog-bone ornaments off the tree if they wanted to donate toward the care of Matilda, CASA of Lexington’s certified courthouse facility dog.
Frazier said McBrayer is committed to being involved in the local community, and no other cause is more important to the company than CASA of Lexington.
Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the family court system. Their work helps children get services they need and find safe, permanent homes faster.
CASA of Lexington Executive Director Melynda Jamison said there is a need for more CASA volunteers to serve children who currently do not have advocates. Last year, CASA of Lexington volunteers served 462 children in Fayette County, but close to 1,000 had new cases opened.
“It takes everyone and here in Lexington, I know we’re a strong-knit community and I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to do,” she said. “Unfortunately, the work is not done.”
By Dec. 1, the Angel Tree gifts will be returned, unwrapped, to McBrayer or the CASA of Lexington office. Then, CASA volunteers will deliver the gifts to the children’s caretakers in time for the holidays.
Anyone interested in participating can purchase additional gifts for Angel Tree children off the CASA of Lexington Angel Tree Wish List on Amazon, at https://bit.ly/casaangeltree. A few seats are still available in the next training for new CASA volunteers, which starts Jan. 11. More information about becoming a CASA volunteer is available at www.casaoflexington.org/learn.
Those who would like to make the CASA Angel Tree event an even bigger success can purchase additional gifts for children in need through CASA of Lexington’s Angel Tree wish list, available on Amazon at https://bit.ly/casaangeltree. Gifts purchased from this list and shipped to CASA of Lexington’s gift registry address will be matched to children in the Angel Tree program who would most enjoy them.
CASA of Lexington’s trained and supervised volunteers advocate through the family court systems in Fayette, Bourbon, Woodford, Scott, Jessamine and Garrard counties to ensure all victims of child abuse and neglect are safe and thrive in a permanent home. Changes such as where the child lives or goes to school, changes in social workers, teachers and friends, as well as the uncertainty of what life holds, can be very overwhelming for these children. The CASA volunteer is there to help recognize what the child needs, work to minimize these detrimental changes, and advocate for positive changes for the child’s future.