Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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December 1, 2013

'12 Days of CASA' has begun

Fundraiser to continue through Dec. 12

ASHLAND — Child representative services in Boyd County are bringing the concept of “12 Days of Christmas” to life with their 12-day fundraiser aimed at collecting donations to finance supervision and training of community volunteers in the new year.

The fundraiser for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Kentucky Inc. began Sunday and will last until Dec. 12, highlighting special court cases in 2013, donors and sponsors every day of the event.

With corporate sponsors such as Town Square Bank, Marathon Petroleum, Community Trust Bank and more already pledging $500 a day, CASA is tasked with rounding up donations from individuals and other organizations for matched dollars.

Executive Director Carol Adams said CASA’s goal is to collect $12,000 over the course of the 12 days, with any donor giving any amount of money being featured on their website and Facebook page and will have their name entered into a daily drawing for prizes as a token of appreciation and recognition.

Winners of the drawing will receive a gift card to a restaurant either in Ashland or Huntington.

The cases featured daily on their website, with all identifying information of the child and family changed, inform donors how their money is being put toward a cause, Adams said.

Corporate sponsors opting to support a full day of fundraising get special publicity on the CASA Facebook page. Companies who bring in the most donations from employees during that day receive a special gratuity gift basket and recognition in The Independent during the follow-up story at the fundraiser’s commencement.

Money raised during this fundraiser will be specifically used to help with screening, training and supervising court-appointed volunteers who research the cases of children appearing in court because of abusive or neglectful conditions at home.

Adams said the appointees attend every court hearing with the child, investigate and collect information about their cases and offer written reports and oral testimony to help the judge make informed decisions regarding the situation.

CASA has 23 volunteers, each given only one or two cases, in order for them to have time to thoroughly investigate a particular case, as opposed to juggling up to 30 cases at once, as Adams said most state social workers have to do.

In Boyd County, Adams estimates they help approximately 150 children a year, which is a little less than half of the cases filtered through the system, therefore they are always actively seeking more volunteers.

Since the program is not state-regulated, Adams said it enables CASA to make independent decisions about representation. However, since It is a nonprofit, it is tasked with fundraising each year in order to remain sustainable.

“Our system designed to be a separate entity from the state in order to try and bridge the gaps that the state leaves behind,” she said. “But it really is a catch-22 because we're not restricted by the state, but we're also not funded by the state.”

Therefore in addition to the 12-day fundraiser around Christmas, CASA has other events such as Casablanca at the country club, vegas-casino-style dinner and silent auction in June. In May, it hosts a “Ladies Day Out” dollar auction and luncheon where women can bid on a variety of up to 100  surprise gift bags, with bids restricted to $1 increments. Other fundraisers include a golf tournament in the fall and Pennies from Heaven in local schools in April.

Last year was the first 12-day Christmas fundraiser for CASA, which raised nearly $18,000. Adams said it was so successful they were able to add a second training date to their calendar for volunteers. She hopes they will be able to do the same this year.

CASA donations can be made at casaofnortheastky.org using the secure server and PayPal or they can be mailed directly to Boyd County Court House, 2800 Louisa St., Suite 202, Catlettsburg, KY 41129.

For those wishing to volunteer to be part of CASA, he or she must be age 21 or older, allow for several criminal background checks and have a valid driver's license. No professional experience is required and all training is provided through the CASA national curriculum once appointed by the judge.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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