By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (February 10, 2016) – The third annual “All In” for CASA Kids Casino Night fundraiser isn’t just for high rollers. The event, slated for Friday, April 1 at City Hall at City Limits, is for anyone – and everyone – looking for a night of fun.
“Everyone is actively involved once the gaming starts,” Judy Walker, executive director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for the Cross Timbers Area (CASA CTA), said. “Not every fundraising event allows donors a fun-filled night of playing games and winning prizes.”
The nonprofit organization’s largest fundraiser of the year will include games of craps, Texas Hold’em, three-card poker, roulette and Blackjack.
Ante up for casino night
Individuals, businesses and organizations contributing $1,000 or more, dubbed “Spades” donors, will receive eight tickets to the event, recognition at the venue entrance and a dining table. They will also be highlighted in event promotions and by the emcee during the casino night. Other levels of contribution include Hearts, $500 or more, which receive four tickets; and Diamonds, with donations of $350 or more, who are given two tickets. Individual ticket purchasers, “Clubs” gain entry into the fundraiser for a $50 donation.
The event is run by a company that specializes in such events and includes three hours of gaming on full-size gaming tables, experienced dealers ready to teach games to donors who aren’t as savvy.
All underwriters will be treated to a chicken fried steak buffet dinner with all the trimmings and a $500 gaming chip.
“Everyone will get $500 (in) chips and they can win chips and keep playing throughout the night,” Walker said. “Anyone experiencing a losing streak can purchase more chips.”
At the end of the three hours of casino-style games, players will cash in their chips for raffle tickets, which will be used for chances at any of five items.
“Ticket holders decide which of the items they would like to win and place their tickets on the items,” Walker explained. “If they have 100 tickets, they can put them all on one item or spread the tickets across all five items for a chance at winning each of them.”
Walker said the organization has set a $20,000 fundraising goal for the event, which raised more than $11,000 in 2014 and a little less than $15,000 last year. She hopes a boost in 2016 donations will help improve the quality of life for all CASA CTA kids.
The April 1 event begins with a 6 p.m. social, with dinner served at 6:30. A live auction will be held at 7 p.m., and a silent auction will continue throughout the evening. Gaming tables open at 7:30.
Organizers ask that underwriters make their reservations by calling CASA at (254) 965-6610 or by contacting Walker at (682) 429-5171. A CASA representative will pick up your payment and deliver tickets to your home or business address.
Tickets may also be purchased from CASA CTA staffers Holli Isham or Beverley Christiansen or from one of the organization’s board members.
About the organization
CASA CTA, casacta.org, serves Erath, Bosque, Eastland and Hamilton counties by recruiting, training, and supporting volunteers who provide advocacy for abused and neglected children. Volunteers investigate a child’s foster care arrangement, monitor their home and school life, research their physical and psychological health and recommend the court-ordered permanent home placement that’s best for the child.
“Today, we are serving 99 children in 54 cases,” Walker said. “During the 2015 calendar year, CASA for the Cross Timbers Area included 37 volunteers who submitted 141 court reports, drove almost 60,000 miles and devoted more than 4,200 hours to provide legal, educational, medical and social advocacy for 152 foster children.”
Improved services, growing expenses
Walker said as the services provided by CASA CTA continue to grow, the expenses and need for funding also increase. A revised vision statement now addresses the “needs of the whole child,” in addition to providing traditional advocacy, she said.
In cases of kinship placement, children are oftentimes placed in the homes of grandparents living on a fixed income or other family members with children of their own. CASA CTA can now offer some financial support in providing for the needs of the foster children.
Walker said foster parents are now allowed to include CASA kids in events and activities outside of the child’s foster home and school. In the past, affected children were barred from participation.
“The children we serve can now participate in camps, sleepovers, trips and other activities, and we can offer assistance with some of those costs,” Walker said, adding the transformation allows CASA kids to better adapt to the everyday lives of their foster family and peers.
“Foster parents are allowed to make the same decisions for their foster children that they would for their own children,” Walker added.
Only half of CASA CTA expenses can be state funded. Walker said while the organization receives some federal funding, a larger portion must be raised locally. CASA is an Erath County United Way partner agency, but the upcoming casino night will help bridge the gaps between funding sources.