GREAT FALLS — We reported last month that CASA-CAN (Court-Appointed Special Advocates-Childrens' Advocate Network) in Great Falls was asking for help showing foster kids some love on Valentine’s Day with cards - and the community responded in a big way. On Tuesday, we received the following message from CASA-CAN director Mercedes Oxford Kemp:
Thank you so much for running this story. After the story hit the news we started receiving valentines nonstop. Everyone from babies to grannies, former foster kids, participants in drug treatment court, entire school classrooms, families, girl scout troops, 4H clubs, cub scouts, boy scouts, church groups, families, and college students donated Valentines. We even had an individual donate catered cupcakes to ensure that all of our foster kids in our community got one in addition to a valentine.
After hearing about our success, six other CASA programs in Montana started their own Valentines Drive for foster kids. Colorado CASA saw the news article and started their own Valentines Drive for foster kids.
Montana State CASA wants to make this statewide next year. There has been calls to National CASA about making this a national program.
In our office alone, we received thousands of Valentines. We received so many that we are able to give a valentine for EVERY CHILD in Foster Care in the State of Montana. Yesterday I shipped out six boxes to CPS and CASA offices across the state so that they could hand the Valentines to their foster children.
It’s been such a beautiful event. Thanks again. We couldn’t have done this without you. ❤
Kemp said the cards are important because Valentine’s Day can be isolating for the kids: "I used to be a foster parent, and then my husband was in foster care and this would've been something that would've been neat for him when he was in foster care and also for our foster kids that we had,” said Kemp. "I think that would've been really neat to show the kids that we had that, 'Hey, here are some Valentine's from people in the community. You're loved and you're appreciated and you're not alone."
Visit the CASA-CAN website to learn more about the organization, including this overview:
CASA Advocates are Community Volunteers who give their time, voice and commitment to a victim of child abuse to help ensure that their rights are protected so they will not get lost in an overcrowded child welfare system. No experience necessary - all you need is heart and a bit of time. Training provided. All year long CASA-CAN is committed and focused on working with our community to combat child abuse, its causes and its effects. Volunteers are needed to meet CASA's goal of providing a voice for every child who needs one and breaking the cycle of child abuse in this generation.