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 together. 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 with each other.
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) is calling on the community to make 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 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.
When community members sign up to become CASA of CGS holiday 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.
There are currently 62 children left in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties waiting for holiday sponsors. Something as simple as opening a special gift can make a tremendous impact in these children’s lives by reminding them that they are seen, they are supported, and they are loved.
“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. Email Julia Shulzhenko at firstname.lastname@example.org to become a sponsor.
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