LOS ANGELES, May 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of foster children throughout Southern California were gifted with the magic and joy of play this week thanks to nearly 150 volunteers brought together by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (CASA) at TIF's annual "Play Your Part" event held earlier this month.
Forty-one companies from the toy industry made "Play Your Part" possible, with volunteers from 30 of these companies on-site to help assemble dolls, games, puzzles, arts & crafts and other skill-building playthings into special gift packages that were shipped this week to Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program sites in Los Angeles, Imperial County, Santa Barbara, San Bernadino, Kern County, and the Eastern Sierra region to serve 7,000 children in need.
"We know that our toy packages will show these deserving children that they are not forgotten," said Jean Butler, Executive Director of the Toy Industry Foundation. "They've experienced a great deal of adversity and we're here to give them back an important piece of their childhoods – play!"
"When children are removed from their homes, the world is turned upside down. Offering them a new toy – something special that is just for them – is one great way CASA volunteers can connect with their appointed foster children and bring smiles to their faces," said Cristine Reynaert, Board member of CASA of Los Angeles.
"Play Your Part" was made possible thanks to generous toy donations to TIF's Toy Bank, volunteer teams, and sponsorship provided by toy industry companies, including the following "Big Heart" and "Specialty" event sponsors: Funrise Toy Corporation, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, Patch Products, TOMY International, and Vtech Electronics North America.
"It's one thing to work at a toy company and actually design and produce the toys, but it's another to get hands-on and help kids," said volunteer Stephanie Simpson of Funrise Toy Corporation. "Some child is going to open one of these packages and be excited!"
The partnership between the Toy Industry Foundation and National CASA began in 2013; to date, TIF has distributed over 200,000 toys to foster children served by CASA programs. In addition, grant funds provided by TIF to the CASA network are helping to recruit and train needed CASA volunteers to stand up for the needs and rights of abused and neglected children. Each year, more than 600,000 children experience foster care. Last year, only 251,000 of them were assigned a CASA volunteer.
"CASA volunteers are appointed to children when they've suffered such loss and are at their most vulnerable," said Michelynn "Miki" Woodard, National CASA Board of Trustees member. "A simple gesture – a toy, a smile – can begin to restore some normalcy to their lives."
In addition to working with CASA, the Toy Industry Foundation works year-round with partners and international charities to bring new toys and games to children who are underserved, at-risk, in hospitals, and in military families. To date, TIF has provided more than $118 million in toys to 18 million children in need.
About Toy Industry Foundation (www.toyindustryfoundation.org)
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) is a non-profit organization that delivers the magic of play to children in need. The Foundation currently fulfills its mission through core programs, including The Toy Bank™, and grants to organizations with like-minded missions. The first industry-wide program of its kind, The Toy Bank receives donations of newly manufactured toys from members of the toy industry and distributes them to charities that benefit underserved, at-risk and homeless children throughout the United States and around the world. To date, TIF's generous toy company donors have provided more than $118 million in toys to 18 million children in need.
About National CASA for Children (www.casaforchildren.org)
National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is a network of more than 900 community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. The only program of its kind, CASA volunteers are empowered by the courts to provide children with one-on-one advocacy. CASA volunteers see their assigned children regularly and interview all the adults who impact their lives. Volunteer advocates offer judges the critical information they need to ensure each child's rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care, staying with the child until she is placed in a loving permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.
SOURCE Toy Industry Foundation