There are currently 676 children in foster care and 335 of them were served last year by the South Central Court Appointed Advocates, who represent Phelps, Pulaski, Texas and Maries counties.

Amidst the glitz and glam of the Technicolor Christmas themed Third Annual Festival of Trees event, guests learned that abused and neglected children served by the South Central Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are 95 per cent more successful in life.

CASA recruits, trains and supports volunteers who advocate for children in the foster care system. The not-for-profit South Central CASA organization represents the 25th Judicial Circuit which incorporates four counties, Phelps, Pulaski, Texas and Maries counties.

The nine gaily decorated 7.5-foot – 12-foot trees were auctioned off, as the 220 attendees vied to win one of the donated trees in the friendly bidding wars. The 55 beautifully decorated silent auction baskets were donated by individuals and businesses.

Local and area caterers provided a wide variety of dishes for the guests. Silent auction baskets donated by individuals and businesses were beautifully decorated. The event was held at the Hasselmann Alumni House in downtown Rolla.

The annual fundraiser, presented by MO-SCI, was a huge success. The media sponsor was Hartley’s Climate Control. There are currently 676 children in foster care and 335 of them were served last year by the CASA organization. “We still have 341 children who need an advocate to be their voice,” said CASA Executive Director Matt Evans.

When the South Central CASA organization opened its doors in July of 2005, with seven volunteers and over 200 children in the four county area. CASA now has 170 volunteers, but more are needed.

“When it comes to a child, we have hope,” said Evans as he introduced the theme for next year, Hope 2020. “When it comes to a child that just needed a pair of basketball shoes, we have hope. When it comes to an infant in the hospital who just needed someone to be there, we have hope. When it comes to a child, we have hope.”

Evans went on to say that the goal for the local organization is to serve every child in foster care by the end of 2021. He recommended that folks could give of their time, talent or financially to make a difference in the lives of these children.

For more information log on to www.casascmo.org/hope2020 or call the CASA office at (573) 426-5437.