A county organization that serves children in foster care is calling on the business community to help bring young people some holiday joy.

Richland County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is giving local businesses the chance to adopt a child through its Angel Tree program.

Richland County CASA volunteers serve as guardians ad litem, helping provide quality volunteer and legal representation to ensure every child a safe, permanent and nurturing home. With the Angel Tree program, CASA works to ensure the children have presents to open for the holidays.

“Every year staff, guardians ad litem, and the children we serve are wowed by Richland County EMS, the generous businesses and the people in this community,” said Dante Roberts, executive director of CASA. “Without the community’s help, none of this is possible.”

Businesses have three ways to participate in the Angel Tree effort:
• Allow CASA to set up an Angel Tree in their office space for staff and visitors to pick a child to adopt for gift donations. The tree is actually a wall poster with angel ornaments that serve as a wish list for children in foster care. CASA can pick up tagged, unwrapped gifts from offices and distribute them to the children’s caretakers.
• Adopt angels without an Angel Tree. Businesses can request the number of children they would like to adopt, and CASA will send them the children’s descriptions and wish lists directly.
• Collect gifts for donation. CASA can supply a decorated box to set up in an office space for staff and visitors to fill with newly donated, unwrapped holiday gifts.

CASA accepts most children’s gifts but most often runs short on items for tweens and teens ages 12 to 17. Gift cards are suggested so children can do things they enjoy, such as shopping or going to movies. Other ideas for holiday gifts are:
• weekend luggage
• board games
• crafts
• outdoor games
• footballs, basketballs or soccer balls
• skateboards
• scarfs, hats and gloves for winter

CASA’s Angel Tree and business gift donation programs will collect items from offices throughout November. To adopt a child or for more information, contact Pashion Cook at [email protected] or 803-904-2715.

Christmas Toy Drive with EMS
CASA is also partnering with Richland County EMS for its annual Christmas toy drive, which begins this Monday, November 21.

Through December 8, residents can support the effort by dropping off new, unwrapped donations of children’s items at EMS headquarters at 1410 Laurens Street, Columbia, during normal county business hours, Monday through Friday. Donations will benefit local children in the CASA program.

For more information about Stuff an Ambulance, call 803-576-3409 or email [email protected] To learn more about CASA, visit www.RCCASA.org or call 803-576-1735.