By: Annalisa Ciro, Follow South Jersey Writer
BRIDGETON, N.J. – The holiday season is in full swing. From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah and Christmas to Kwanzaa, there’s something for almost everyone to celebrate and feel part of a community. And after nearly two years of isolation and social distancing, people across the globe are especially looking forward to spending time with family this holiday season.
But while the holidays help bring most people closer, they can be a difficult time for children and families involved in the child welfare system who are not able to spend this time together.
When a family is in crisis and becomes involved in the child welfare system, the children are often removed from their homes and placed in foster care, many times far from everyone and everything they know.
This holiday season, the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem Counties (CASA of CGS) urges you to be mindful of the children who are spending the holidays away from those they love, and consider making a difference by sponsoring a CASA youth for the holidays.
“December is meant to be a festive time to spend with your friends and family,” said Julia Shulzhenko, Outreach and Training Coordinator of CASA of CGS. “Too often, though, children in foster care spend the holidays away from their family and home community, which can deprive them of precious memories that can make the holiday season so special.”
For children who have experienced abuse or neglect, the holidays can be a very difficult time of the year. These children may have been removed from the only home they have ever known. They are attending court hearings, adjusting to new foster homes, and transitioning to new schools. That is a heavy burden to carry alone, especially during what should be the most wonderful time of year. But you can help make a difference in their life.
You can give them the gift of hope.
This holiday season, CASA of CGS is asking community members throughout South Jersey to consider sponsoring a CASA youth. During what can be such an incredibly emotional time for youth who have experienced abuse and neglect and have been separated from their families, CASA of CGS is dedicated to brightening their lives a bit by ensuring that each child they serve receives a present just for them. Something as simple as opening a special gift can make a tremendous impact in their life by reminding them that they are seen, they are supported, and they are loved.
When community members sign up to become CASA of CGS sponsors, they agree to provide gift(s) to one or more CASA youth for the holidays. Sponsors are able to choose which child(ren) they would like to provide gifts for throughout Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties based on age, gender, and personal interests. CASA of CGS holiday sponsors can be individuals, families, or even girl scout troops and churches.
“Each year, more children enter the foster care system and don’t get the opportunity to spend the holiday season at home with their loved ones,” Shulzhenko added. “We need more members of the community to step up and get involved. You can make a difference this holiday season.”
This year, consider sponsoring a CASA youth to help give them the happy holiday season they deserve. Form submissions to become a sponsor can be found on their website and are due on November 26th. To learn more, visit https://www.wespeakupforchildren.org/sponsor-casa-holidays.
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