During pandemic, number of foster kids in need in JoCo and WyCo has spiked — but you can help

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties is hosting a gift drive for abused and neglected children on Dec. 3 at 6950 Squibb Road. Above, wrapped gifts await to be distributed to families as part of Mission's holiday adoption program. File photo.

As people head to the stores for some holiday shopping, the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Johnson and Wyandotte counties is asking the public to think of neglected and abused children.

Although local businesses normally hold toy and gift drives for CASA, COVID-19 has put limitations on those efforts and closed some participating businesses, said Nina Kimbrough, CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties volunteer recruitment and training director.

Now, CASA is seeking the public’s help to collect gifts for 300 to 400 foster children — double the number CASA normally delivers gifts to for Christmas, Kimbrough said.

“Imagine being a traumatized child, you’ve been abused and neglected and now you’re in a foster home spending time for Christmas with strangers — you’re not even sure Santa will find you,” Kimbrough said. “We would like to make sure all the children have something, a gift, on Christmas that they are able to enjoy.”

The drive-thru, contactless event is on Thursday, Dec. 3, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the CASA building in Mission, 6950 Squibb Road. Volunteers will take the gifts out of cars for donors, and Santa will be in attendance handing out candy canes to donors who want one, Kimbrough said.

Children CASA is collecting for range in ages from infants to teenagers, and Kimbrough said gifts can be anything from gift cards and basketballs to Marvel and “Frozen”-themed toys. She said people should buy gifts for foster children that they know their own kids, grandchildren, nieces or nephews would enjoy.

If someone is interested in helping but can’t make the event, Kimbrough said donations can also be made online here. Additionally, she said CASA is always looking for volunteers to advocate for the more than 525 children the Johnson and Wyandotte counties branch currently supports.

“If they are really interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, the first step would be to drop off a toy,” Kimbrough said. “They won’t be able to be a volunteer within 30 days, but they will be able to make an impact on children just this month.”

To become a CASA volunteer, visit CASA’s website here and click on volunteer, or ask about volunteering by phone at (913) 715-4040.