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CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) holds a special place in the heart of Tyler Classical Academy Campus Secretary Kristina Cawthon. Kristina is a dedicated volunteer, following in the footsteps of her mother Kathy Elliott who happens to be the organization’s development director. The family’s passion for helping in CASA’s mission of “providing court-appointed trained community volunteers who advocate for loving, safe and permanent outcomes [for children]” comes in part from the adoption of Kristina’s brother.

Cawthon says she is not alone, she says many of the parents at her school volunteer or work with CASA. During the two-week fundraising event, Tyler Classical Academy students and staff were able to collect $3,295.23 worth of spare change to donate to CASA’s Coins for Kids campaign. “Tyler Classical Academy alone raised more money than CASA’s original campaign goal,” says Cawthon.

According to its website, “CASA for Kids of East Texas provides valuable volunteer advocacy for abused children in the community. CASA volunteers serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ for the judge in child welfare cases. This includes researching each child’s situation and making objective recommendations to help them reclaim their childhoods from abuse and neglect. CASA volunteers are frequently the only stable presence in these children’s lives as they navigate the foster care system.”

Tyler Classical Academy, along with all ResponsiveEd schools, has the mission of providing hope to children. This extends beyond the classroom and schools are encouraged to share that hope within their communities.

A Tyler Classical Academy third-grader campaigns for donations.

Students collected donations by bringing in their family’s spare change and paying $1/day for a free dress privilege instead of wearing the school uniform. Each grade decorated five-gallon paint buckets to hold their donations and they were so heavy after the first week that CASA had to make an early pick up because the staff couldn’t carry the buckets.

“We are amazed at the generosity from the students, faculty, and parents from Tyler Classical Academy for our Coins for Kids Campaign through CASA for Kids of East Texas.  They exceeded our expectations by far, and you could tell that they did it with enthusiasm and passion for other children who are living in situations that are much different than their home life,” says Elliott. “We could not complete our mission to advocate for the abused and neglected children in our community without the support of our community.”

School Administrators compared each grades’ donations by total weight of the buckets of change and then adding the number of cash dollars. The second-grade class won the friendly competition, bringing in 31.4 pounds  + $206, with first graders coming in at a close second place of 31 pounds. The winners celebrated with a movie and pizza party while all students got free ice cream coupons from CASA.

Tyler Classical Academy second-graders with teachers Holly Campbell and Kristen Springer.

Cawthon says that the school hopes to continue its support of the organization by raising at least $5,000 through a fun run in the spring similar to last year’s run that benefitted a school family’s medical expenses.

“The assistance that Tyler Classical Academy has provided will allow us to continue our fight to ensure these children have a chance for a bright future,” says Elliott.

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