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12:06 PM Wed, Jan. 16th

Democrats gather toys for foster children served by CASA Council

Susie Gestrine, left, of Mohave County Democrats Central Committee, and Beverly Siemens, president of CASA Council, show some of the toys and children’s clothes being donated for foster children supported by CASA Council. (Photo by Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

Susie Gestrine, left, of Mohave County Democrats Central Committee, and Beverly Siemens, president of CASA Council, show some of the toys and children’s clothes being donated for foster children supported by CASA Council. (Photo by Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

KINGMAN – More than 800 foster children are living in Mohave County and the number is growing by the day, said Beverly Siemens, president of CASA Council.

Most of the children have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect, and a lot of infants are “drug babies,” Siemens said Tuesday at the Mohave County Democrats monthly meeting at Calico’s restaurant.

“These kids are shipped out to Prescott, Show Low, Phoenix, all over the place, because there are not enough homes here,” she said. There are about 14,000 kids in foster care throughout the state, she added.

Mohave County Democrats organized a toy drive for CASA Council, a nonprofit organization that raises money to fulfill the needs of Mohave County foster children.

The toys will be presented to the kids at Winter Wonderland from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Cerbat Elementary School in Kingman. It’s a safe and fun way for foster children to celebrate the holidays, Siemens said. A similar event will take place the same day at Desert Valley Elementary School in Bullhead City.

CASA Council receives requests from Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, to provide clothes, toys, sports equipment, music lessons, art classes and dance lessons, Siemen said.

Involving foster children in childhood activities promotes healing, builds self-esteem and allows them to feel like any other child, she said.

These are other things that cannot be provided by Arizona’s Department of Child Services, like a $75 allowance twice a year for the kids. “It’s endless what we do,” Siemens said.

Some of the kids get picked up with no clothes, no shoes and no socks, said Theresa Evans, CASA Council board member.

“They come to us with their clothes in a garbage bag and you know how that feels for a kid? ‘I’m being thrown away,’” Evans said.

When she takes kids shopping, they want to buy things for their family, not themselves, she mentioned.

CASA Council accepts tax-deductible contributions that can reduce state taxes by up to $1,000 for couples and $500 for singles. Go to www.casasupport.org for details.

In other business at the Mohave County Democrats meeting, the following officers were named for 2019: Kelly Lindsey, chair; Mary McCord Robinson, vice chair; Rob Lindsey second vice chair; Danny Baker, treasurer; Heather Patenause, secretary; and Jon Holland, sergeant at arms.