FRESNO COUNTY – Noble Credit Union wrapped up its Holiday Donation Drive, which collected over $250 in cash donations and over 250 gifts for 222 youths in foster care.
The drive started on Dec. 2 and concluded on Dec. 21 and benefited Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Fresno and Madera counties and the youths they serve. When the drive kicked off, Noble chief marketing officer Keri Bennit said there was a “pictures with Santa” event where members could grab a free photo, and the donation box was set up to allow those in attendance to bring donated items or make a monetary donation.
“The holidays often look very different for youth in foster care since they may not be with family members, not waking up in their room, and not feeling remembered,” said CASA Executive Director Wilma Tom Hashimoto via news release.
Hashimoto noted that Noble Credit Union took the initiative to address the latter part of that statement by organizing a Toy Drive with Noble’s members to donate to the CASA and the children they serve.
“It was more than the tangible gift; it was the sense of being remembered, being seen and having hope,” she said. “Our local children in foster care do not ask for much; often they do not ask for anything. Imagine their joy when their CASA volunteer provided them gifts.”
The drive was conducted at eight Noble branches in Fresno, Clovis, Selma and Madera. Noble’s community partners include Hinds Hospice, Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, Creditors Bureau, Kings River Conservation District, CORE Business Interiors, Own A Car and Pardini’s.
“Our partnership with CASA is rooted in our dedication to making a meaningful impact in our community,” said Noble President and CEO Gino Cayanan in the release. “We believe that every child deserves to experience the warmth and joy of the holiday season, and we are honored to contribute to CASA’s mission.”
Noble was established in 1941. Its eight, full-service branches in Fresno, Clovis, Selma and Madera serve over 105,000 members.
CASA got its start in Seattle in 1976. It was the brainchild of Superior Court Judge David Soukup. He observed that cases involving children left him with too many questions and not enough answers.
“You wonder, ‘Do I really know everything I should? Have I really been told all of the different things? Is this really right?’,” reads a statement from Soukup from the CASA website.
Soukup secured funding to train community volunteers to advocate on behalf of children caught up in the court system. In 1977, CASA rolled out its pilot program in Seattle. During the first year, CASA provided 110 volunteers for nearly 500 children. Today, there are over 85,000 CASA volunteers nationwide.
CASA of Fresno County was established in 1996. It was staffed with one full-time employee and a group of volunteers. In 2006, CASA expanded into Madera County.
Today, CASA has a full-time staff and has 250 volunteers. Each year, the organization serves more than 300 of the 3,000 abused and neglected children in foster care in Fresno and Madera counties.