Voices for CASA Children, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to serving foster children in Maricopa County and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA volunteers) who support them, hosted its annual Jingle & Mingle CASA Holiday Party, where hundreds of CASA volunteers chose from thousands of collected toys, books, blankets, pajamas and more to give to their assigned foster children.

Many of the 12,000 abused or neglected children in foster care in Maricopa County have never experienced the joy of a holiday celebration. Voices for CASA Children, CASA of Maricopa County and their partners were keen on showering some joy on these vulnerable children.

The donations were provided by several partners, including The Salvation Army, Arizona Blankets 4 Kids and Pajama Program.

“This is one of the most cherished events Voices for CASA Children puts on each year, because it brings together hundreds of caring and dedicated Court Appointed Special Advocates to celebrate a year of effort helping local foster children have a brighter future,” said Robin Pearson, executive director for Voices for CASA Children. “We are so thankful to everyone who donated, and the advocates can’t wait to see the look on the children’s faces when they deliver these gifts to them before the holidays.”

As an officer of the court, a CASA volunteer visits with the foster child and anyone involved in his or her life, from foster parents, to teachers and doctors. A Court Appointed Special Advocate serves as the eyes and ears of the judge and submits a report before each court hearing with recommendations about the child’s best interest. A CASA volunteer is often the most consistent person in a foster child’s life and is especially valuable because he or she typically focuses on one child or sibling group at a time.

Children with a CASA volunteer assigned to their case are more likely to receive services, spend less time in the child welfare system and are less likely to return to foster care. There are far too many children in care, putting continued burden on the child welfare system and creating an even greater need for volunteer advocates, according to the organization.

Voices for CASA Children is dedicated to bringing a voice to every abused and neglected child in state dependency and supports expansion of the CASA program in Maricopa County. Voices was established in 2011 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For details, go to voicesforcasachildren.org.