On November 7, 2022, CASA for Children of DC hosted a Thanksgiving Drive with Washington Commanders Wide Receiver Terry McLaurin. Our partners at The Rychkid Foundation were also in attendance to help hand out tasty meals for families. With the generosity of Safeway, each family was gifted ingredients for a hearty meal and a gift card. Families also enjoyed a light meal and holiday music.
The interactions between families and Terry while receiving their Thanksgiving meals were heartwarming. Terry seemed to recognize some of the families from his birthday party, and many youth were ecstatic to see him. Many families said they were grateful to have an event like this happen in their community and how thankful they were that Terry took the time to come. Some youth from a local football team anxiously waited to get Terry alone so they could quiz him about football and challenge him to a push-up contest! Terry participated and did not hold back, quickly winning the competition against the boys. Even some of our staff joined in the competition towards the end, getting in a few push-ups before Terry was deemed victorious in the match. While most families showed up to the event wearing Commanders attire, a few were spotted wearing Cowboys gear, a major rival of the DC team! All in good fun, though, there were no hard feelings, and everyone was still thankful to have the opportunity to take part in the food drive.
The event also had a table where youth could choose a few books to take home with them. The younger kids enjoyed looking for comic books or anything containing pictures. Most boys were thrilled to find sports books among those on the table. One youth was overjoyed to pick out a book containing over a hundred pages of Mad Libs! Even a parent got in on the action. She was excited to find a book she could share with her students about the life story of important figures in history. Boys were also able to receive free professional haircuts at the event, provided by barbers from the DYRS youth center.
Overall, the event was a success! Everyone enjoyed themself – youth, families, volunteers, and staff – it was a fantastic way for the community to come together close to the holidays. CASA DC provides fun and safe activities for youth and their families to participate in. This event in particular showed youth positive role models, potential career paths, and the chance to meet and interact with peers. It is our vision that every vulnerable youth in DC receives excellent advocacy and support to unleash their full potential and thrive. This vision is carried out through the recruitment, training, and support of volunteer court-appointed special advocates (CASA volunteers) who provide mentorship and best interest advocacy to foster youth in DC. Consider being one of these advocates for a young person in the community. Visit www.casadc.org/volunteer for more information.
If you would like to spread some holiday cheer this year, please support CASA for Children of DC’s Annual Holiday Party for Youth this December. You can donate a gift, contribute to our activity stations, or be a sponsor! Your support is greatly appreciated! Please visit https://www.casadc.org/giftdrive for more information.
-Olivia Sycz, CASA DC Intern