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The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA has partnered with Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Inc. to collect toys for children who have been adopted from the local foster care system. CASA will be collecting large stuffed animals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Blossman Family Branch YMCA on Friday, April 20.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and YMCAs across the country are participating in Five Days of Action from April 16 to 20 to raise awareness about how to prevent child sexual abuse. The local five-day awareness event concludes Friday with the toy drive.
“April is a perfect time to share with our community what everyday citizens can do to help,” said Frances L. Allsup, executive director of CASA, an agency of United Way for Jackson & George Counties. “The number of children in Jackson County coming into care continues to grow and we aim to meet that need. Every child deserves the support of a caring, consistent, trained adult to help them find a safe, loving home where they can heal and thrive.”
Allsup continued that they collect stuffed animals as a way to help these children simply be children and to provide them comfort with something familiar, such as a teddy bear. The stuffed animals and toys collected will go to the children that CASA serves.
Theresa Haynes, youth services director for the Blossman Family YMCA, said that they have a goal in mind for the number of stuffed animals they hope to collect during Friday’s event. “We would be very happy if we could get 100,” she said.
The Youth Services Department has displayed child abuse prevention boards at the Blossman Family YMCA this week during the Five Days of Action. Throughout the month of April, CASA is calling on members of the community to help their program serve more of Jackson County’s most vulnerable children.