Think you have holiday stress? Try taking 156 children shopping at the same time.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson and volunteers had that ambitious and rewarding task Dec. 4. The El Dorado Hills Target shopping trip was a dream-turned-reality for Pierson and his wife Cyndee, who four years ago set out educate people about and raise funds for Court Appointed Special Advocates, a program that links abused children and at-risk youth with court-appointed, trained volunteers who advocate on their behalf during legal proceedings.
“Several years ago I was prosecuting child abuse cases and family violence cases,” said Pierson, an El Dorado Hills resident.”There are kids who live in the most affluent communities and their daily lives are a struggle.”
CASA seeks to alleviate the stresses that come with the daily struggle by giving those children, whose futures are often in limbo, a strong voice. Volunteers investigate and monitor cases involving children, many in foster care, and make recommendations to judges.
To further support these young individuals the Piersons host the annual Snowball fundraiser, which nets $50,000 to $70,000 annually to help cover CASA’s ongoing operations costs, and this year they added the early morning shopping trip for both CASA and Big Brothers Big Sisters clients and a pancake breakfast hosted by the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills.
“We knew it was ambitious,” Pierson said of the events, all held on Dec. 4 in Town Center. “So many people helped and it all came together.”
Pierson said he was especially grateful to the families who sponsored this year’s Snowball and shopping trip — Ken and Lielanie Steers, Ron and Daryl Middelstaedt, and Gary and Jerri Lardy. The DA also commended the local Attorneys Association, which covered some shopping costs. A total of $31,200 was spent on the kids, Pierson said.
El Dorado County Auditor-Controller and EDH Rotarian Joe Harn, who headed up the pancake breakfast, said the Piersons and the mentioned sponsors all deserve praise.
“It is an incredible thing they put together for these kids,” Harn said. “It was an awesome day.”
In addition to tasty pancakes and shopping, the kids enjoyed visits with El Dorado Hills firefighters, California Highway Patrol officers and Fish and Game dog handlers who brought along their furry friends.
“Often the only contact (these children) have had with the fire department and law enforcement was a bad situation with their family,” Pierson said. “It’s good for them to see (law enforcement and emergency personnel) in a positive way.”
The fire department brought a truck for kids to tour and CHP handed our 70 bike helmets.
The next CASA fundraiser is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Feb. 4. The Casablanca at the Lake gala at Edgewood Golf Course features food, fine wine, silent and live auctions and dancing. Corporate sponsorships, table reservations and individual tickets will be available soon. For more information call Laurie at (530) 622-9882.