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Pennies, Balloons, Painted Faces, All for a Good Cause

Oct. 4, 2004 -You could judge the success of CASA's Pennies from Heaven program from the large number of children with painted faces and the amount of multi-colored balloons tethered to the hands of toddlers in Sunny Isles on Saturday.
Parents brought their children, children brought their friends, and one by one the young and older people alike, poured their pennies into the huge clear plastic container, bringing up the donation level with every cent. As a thank you, CASA volunteers affixed stickers to the children's shirts and directed them to the activity of their choice.
Penny candy, face painting, brightly colored helium-filled balloons and even a story-telling session waited to delight the youngsters. Dancers from the Pearl B Larsen School performed in the afternoon. Some of the children who gave could barely comprehend the purpose of their donation, but others were well aware of the cause.
Evanna Miller, 12, and Shana Jarvis, 11, Elena Christian seventh grade students unloaded the contents of a one-pound cracker pan into the bin. Miller tilted the can with both hands causing hundreds of pennies to jingle out. The girls said they saw the commercial and collected the pennies from their homes to donate to CASA.
"I just wanted to do something for the children," said Shana. The girls clearly had been taught the principals of good citizenship. This is not the first time the youngsters donated to a worthy cause. "We sent donations to the hurricane victims in Grenada," they said. The girls agreed that helping to "solve children's problems" was a very good thing to do.
CASA Volunteer Aminah Saleem was happy at the turn out. "I am so pleased that the community came out and donated," said Saleem. "They brought their pennies in all kinds of containers!"
CASA has placed donation jars at businesses, banks and at several schools. Locations that were not identified by CASA set up collection jars on their own initiative. CASA hopes to raise $20,000 – or 2 million pennies. EDC beneficiary, IFW/St. Croix Groups LLP will match the amount raised. Last year CASA raised $40,000, and $20,000 was matched by the EDC company.
Founded in 1994, CASA — Court Appointed Special Advocates –of the Virgin Islands is a private, not-for-profit organization established to help ensure that no abused or neglected children needing care slip through cracks in the social service and justice systems. (See "See Change Is the Essence of CASA Campaign for Children").
The non-profit organization trains members of the community to become volunteer advocates for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. Called "the voice of children," CASA volunteers monitor a child's case to insure that necessary services are being provided.
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