Employees of the Georgia Ports Authority helped make the holidays a little brighter for dozens of Savannah-area children Tuesday.
For the past 17 years, GPA employees have delivered wrapped gifts for youths in the care of Savannah/Chatham Court Appointed Special Advocates.
“We are thankful for this opportunity to share a measure of kindness with children in our community who are experiencing real hardship,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “This CASA gift drive has become a holiday tradition we look forward to each year at GPA.”
All of the children served by Savannah/Chatham CASA have experienced abuse and neglect, which resulted in their removal from their families and their entrance into foster care. CASA volunteers, appointed by judges, speak up for the children’s needs in the courtroom and community.
“Many of the children are now living in new communities with people they’ve just met. Their lives have been turned upside down,” said Kate Blair, Savannah/Chatham CASA executive director. “But the gifts provided by Georgia Ports Authority bring a sense of normalcy into this otherwise chaotic and traumatic time. Because of the generous support of GPA, our kids get to be like every other kid. This is a priceless gift.”
Each GPA gift-giver sponsored a child by filling wish lists with holiday goodies. Gift suggestions included clothes, toys, dolls, bikes and games. Case workers at CASA supply the GPA with wish lists for children and youth of all ages.
Holiday carolers from the West Chatham Elementary School Chorus added to the festive atmosphere Thursday.
Throughout the year, Savannah/Chatham CASA recruits and trains volunteer advocates. CASA takes a holistic approach to ensure each child’s psychological, physical, educational, and other needs are met while advocating for permanency in the child’s life. CASA volunteers seek to reduce the amount of time a child spends in foster care by working closely with the Department of Family and Children Services and the Juvenile Court. Studies have shown that a child who is appointed a CASA volunteer spend less time in foster care, have fewer placement disruptions, and perform better in school.
The organization’s mission is a community where every abused or neglected child is given the opportunity to thrive in a safe and loving home. Year to date, Savannah/Chatham CASA has served 273 children in foster care, with the help of 112 community volunteers.