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‘A time of hope and magic’
Foster children gather for annual holiday party
Elizabeth Mitchell, standing, right, with Ingram Funeral Home in Cumming hands a $1,000 donation to CASA Interim Director Paula Malmfeldt. The money helped pay for the CASA Christmas party this year. - photo by Jim Dean

More than 200 Forsyth County foster youth and their caregivers showed up at Stars and Strikes recently for the annual CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Forsyth County Kids Holiday Party.

Stars and Strikes opened its doors during the Dec. 2 event, offering foster youth served by CASA of Forsyth County the chance to bowl, play laser tag, play arcade games and eat pizza for three hours straight.

CASA Board of Directors Chair Judi Jenkins said the event “gave these kids an opportunity to have a real Christmas celebration,” including an opportunity to meet Santa Claus and get their photo made with him.

Reminiscing on the event, Jenkins got emotional.

“It’s just such a wonderful time of hope and magic for these kids,” Jenkins said, adding that the gathering owes much to business and community sponsorships.

Ingram Funeral Home donated $1,000 to support the administrative costs of the event — invitations, wrapping paper, stockings, photo printing and gifts for Santa’s Worskhop, where children could get gifts for their caregivers.

“Stars and Strikes has been a fabulous partner for this annual event for the last six years,” said Elizabeth Mitchell with Ingram Funeral Home. “[Foster children with CASA] get to … spend the morning just being carefree kids.”

Members of the Johns Creek Baptist Church, Cumming First United Methodist Church and Beaver Toyota filled stockings for each of the children who attended.

Girl Scouts from Forsyth County provided craft projects for the children.

Paula Malmfeldt, interim executive director, said it was “amazing to see all the kids there having a great time … it’s one of those experiences where it’s hard to hold back all the emotion.”

CASA of Forsyth County is a private, nonprofit organization that utilizes specially trained volunteers as advocates for children in foster care.

According to the organization’s website, volunteer advocates “serve as the eyes and ears of the court. They interview anyone who may be able to shed light on the child’s needs — the child, parents, family members, medical professionals, therapists, social workers, school officials and neighbors.”