1,200 Local Foster Children Receive New Toys and More

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Logo

LOWELL, ARK., June 20, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- More than 400 local foster children living in Benton, Washington, Madison and Carroll counties were gifted with brand new toys yesterday (June 19) during a fun-filled afternoon hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and The National CASA Association for CASA of Northwest Arkansas. An additional 800 children will receive new playthings throughout the year on special occasions and holidays thanks to continued support from TIF.

Children served by CASA of Northwest Arkansas enjoyed a full day of bowling, go-karting, and laser tag at Fast Lane Entertainment Center in Lowell before taking home a brand new toy, choosing from a selection of ride-on toys and other items donated by generous toy manufacturers and retailers to The Toy Bank, the Toy Industry Foundation's signature giving program. The fun continued outside of the Center with a sea of bubbles for the children to play in, and a special photo booth providing keepsakes for the day.

"Every child needs and deserves play, which is why we were so proud to make this event possible," said Jean Butler, Executive Director of the Toy Industry Foundation. "The complex foster care and family court systems are confusing and frightening for foster children. By providing these kids with a toy to call their own, and a fun play experience like this, we are showing them that we are thinking about them, and that we care."

"Children in foster care have lost so much. These gifts will mean the world to them," said National CASA Association CEO Michael Piraino. "We are grateful to the Toy Industry Foundation for their support and commitment to bringing joy to children during a very difficult time in their lives."

"We aren't able to go out much, so this made their whole day," said Shasheen Downes, foster mother of two. "They get to play games, have dinner, and get a free toy! It's such a blessing."

Today's event was held as part of the joint TIF / CASA national partnership, which was launched in early 2013 to provide hope and toys to children living in foster care. To date, the initiative has distributed 120,000 toys to foster children nationwide. TIF has also provided CASA with a total of $400,000 in grant-funding to date to train and increase the number of court-appointed volunteers who provide one-on-one advocacy and support for children waiting to be placed in loving, permanent homes. The next TIF / CASA toy distribution will take place on July 19th and will bring the joy of play to 5,000 foster children in Kansas City, MO.

Gifts distributed at this event were generously donated to TIF's Toy Bank by Funrise Toy Corporation, Hasbro, Mattel, Redman and Associates and Walmart. Special thanks to Fast Lane Entertainment Center for contributing the event venue and games, Walmart for generous logistical support and the photo booth and Funrise Toy Corporation for creating the bubble play area.

ABOUT TOY INDUSTRY FOUNDATION (www.toyindustryfoundation.org)

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to bring joy, comfort, and learning to children in need through play. The Foundation currently fulfills its mission through core programs including The Toy Bank™ and grants to organizations whose missions are in line with that of the Toy Industry Foundation. 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 through local charities to underserved, at-risk and homeless children throughout the United States and around the world.

About CASA of Northwest Arkansas and National CASA

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Northwest Arkansas is one of 951 CASA programs across the country recruiting and training volunteers to advocate for children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. CASA volunteers speak up for the best interests of these children in court and in their community to ensure that each child has the opportunity to thrive by receiving needed services and assistance while helping to move the child towards a safe and permanent home. CASA volunteers also work to expand the child welfare community's engagement with community service partners to strengthen Northwest Arkansas' resources for families at risk. Last year, CASA volunteers at CASA of Northwest Arkansas provided support to help 450 children.

Photos accompanying this release are available at:

CONTACT: Adrienne Appell, Toy Industry Foundation, 646.520.4863, aappell@toyassociation.org OR Chris Guizlo, The Fearey Group, 206.343.1543, guizlo@feareygroup.com

Source: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)