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Learning to Give:
A Lancaster CASA Holiday Story

CASA Child With Volunteer Advocate Learning to Give: 
-A Lancaster CASA Holiday Story

As we bustle through the holiday season this year, undoubtedly many things from this past year give us pause - whether a moment of reflection, a sigh of regret, or an experience or person you are truly thankful for. I would like to share a story straight from one of our Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and her Lancaster County youth. Their story presents a different picture of the holidays – one that accurately reflects the despair many youth in foster care face during this season and the spark of hope that creates a firestorm of change.

Learning to Give: A Lancaster CASA Holiday Story

The holiday season centers on family and family traditions. This makes it a very difficult season for children in foster care. For “Bethany”, a 12 year old who had been in foster care since she was 5 years old, the holidays felt impossible. Bethany was living in a residential treatment facility; her sixth foster placement in the last four years. Bethany did not have a family to celebrate with, but she had “Nancy,” her CASA.

By the time the holiday season arrived, Nancy had been Bethany’s CASA for six months. In Nancy’s words, “Here’s this child whose feeling hopeless, thinking nobody wants me, everybody hates me. And she’s so down about not having a family, what do we do for this kid?” Nancy thought Bethany needed help looking beyond herself, to see other people whose needs are greater than hers. Nancy decided Bethany would benefit from learning to give.

Every year, Nancy and her husband donate to Heifer International. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Nancy talked to Bethany about Heifer International and showed her the catalog of possible donations. Bethany read the stories about kids who had less than she did, whose lives were more difficult in different ways. Bethany was excited to choose how to spend Nancy’s donation money.

Bethany joyfully allocated Nancy’s annual donation to other families in need. She gave a year’s tuition for a child’s schooling, she gave a water buffalo, and she gave an irrigation system so a family could sustain their farming. Nancy says, “Bethany was so excited about all the things she was able to give to these other families. It was really a neat experience to help Bethany see beyond her need.”

We all know the power and joy of giving to others. This story is a direct result of your kindness and generosity.

Happiest of holidays to you and yours,

Jessica Laspino
Executive Director

P.S. Learning to give proved to be a turning point for Bethany. With Nancy’s continued support, Bethany will spend this holiday with her forever family.

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