According to Dallas CASA Supervisor Ron Craig,
“My role at Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is to advocate for teenagers in the permanent managing conservatorship of the state.
“Those are some fancy words, but what do they mean? The kids I serve and support are teenagers who have come into protective care either because their parents cannot parent or because their parents relinquished them to the state due to behavioral problems, what we call refusal to accept parental responsibility. Many of them come from overwhelmed single-parent households without support from extended family like aunts and uncles or grandparents. A lot of the kids I serve have been in the juvenile justice system or in mental health facilities, and now they are living in residential treatment centers scattered across the state of Texas.
“I won’t mince words. Christmas can be bleak for these kids.
“They don’t have a family to visit them. The centers where they are staying try to make things nice, but it’s not the same as being with your family. Many centers are in remote, rural locations without access to stores. Lots of them go to on-campus charter schools, so they don’t have the same chance to meet friends or learn to interact with peers. They live and go to school with the same group of kids, all placed in these centers because lives at home were bad.
“That’s why Dallas CASA asks for pre-paid cash cards these kids can use to buy their own gifts. With a prepaid cash card, kids can use the money to buy themselves a holiday gift. And it can be whatever they want. I make an extra effort to see every kid I serve in person during the holiday season no matter how far away they are placed, and I always come with a gift card for them.
“For some kids, it’s clothes. For some, it’s music they can download or collector cards or a Marvel obsession. For many of them, it’s electronic games. The centers where they are staying often have rules about when and where they can play electronic games, but they are permitted to own their own games and play them when allowed.
“Often, the things they want aren’t things you can hold in your hand – they’re downloadable games or media. And due to the locations of some of these centers, even Amazon can be hard for them to use. We’ve learned that prepaid cash cards are the best way to get these teenagers a gift at Christmas.
“So many of these kids don’t trust adults or they act like they don’t care I am there, as a defense mechanism. Often, a dangerous path of self-destruction sent them into CPS care. Sometimes, they are just adapting to survive day to day. But after 27 years at Dallas CASA, I know these kids see me and are glad I am there. They are glad that someone cares.
“I want them to know that no matter what has happened to them, their lives can change. I encourage them to remember their actions have consequences and to stay out of trouble. I encourage them to access resources available to them, like free college tuition. I encourage them to take ownership of their own lives and focus on their futures. Most of all, I want them to see better, more positive days ahead.”
- The goal of Dallas CASA’s Angel Tree drive is to be able to provide gifts for all the children in foster care that Dallas CASA works with. They especially need help with gift cards for teens and young people who would like to select their own items or would like to download games or media. Most requested are cash cards in $25 or $50 amounts, Walmart, Amazon or Target gift cards are also needed.
- Gift cards can be unwrapped, sent with small open envelopes or unsealed gift boxes.
- Donations are always welcome, designate “Angel Tree Holiday Program” on the donation form. Checks can be mailed to Dallas CASA, 2757 Swiss Ave., Dallas, 75204 or delivered weekdays between 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Deadline for holiday gift card donation is Monday, December 12.]
* Graphic/photo provided by Dallas CASA