Members of the Texoma community enjoyed a night of dancing, dining and, of course, chocolate at the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Grayson County’s annual Chocolate Indulgence fundraiser Saturday. The annual event, held at the Texoma Event Center, serves as the largest fundraiser for the organization, which supports Grayson County children and youth that are involved with the foster care system.
“Chocolate indulgence is our annual fundraiser and all proceeds go to our operational budget,” CASA Executive Director Natalie Jamison said. “It is our biggest event of the year.”
For the 20th anniversary of the fundraiser, Jamison said guests were treated to dinner, live and silent auctions, live music and the event’s namesake chocolate. For the fundraiser, more than 30 different types of chocolate were offered in a variety of forms. However, the most popular has historically been the chocolate toffee and champagne truffles, Jamison said.
In total, Jamison said the event brings in nearly 20 percent of the organization’s operational budget. This goes on to support volunteers who act as advocates for minors and children who are in area foster care programs.
Jamison said these volunteers visit with the children monthly and also meet with other stakeholders including teachers, court officials and representatives from Child Protective Services. These volunteers then write reports that are submitted to the courts for use in legal cases, many stemming from the removal of the children from their homes due to CPS concerns.
“All of these are Grayson County kids so your volunteers are serving your community,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for 20 years and people have seen we have results.”
Among those in attendance Saturday was Tom Branton, who has volunteered for the past year. In that time he has managed one case involving two brothers.
Branton said he got involved with the organization due to the need for these services. As his wife serves as a special education teacher, he said he has seen the need in the community first hand.
“There are a lot in the system, so we are able to give them the help they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise,” he said.
For this year’s event, organizers chose to go with the theme of the Great Gatsby. Jamison said the event typically does not have a theme, but organizers wanted to choose something that would add some excitement to the 20th anniversary event.
Jeri Carosella, who works with the Texoma Health Foundation, was among those in attendance at Saturday’s event in support of the group. Carosella said her employer offers to donate $1,500 a year to a charitable organization on their behalf. For the past two years Carosella has chosen CASA.
Prior to her time in the area, Carosella said she did not know what it or similar programs did.
“I knew enough to know CASA supports underprivileged and needy children and that was enough,” the former school teacher said.
Despite inclement weather during the event, Carosella said she was happy that so many people turned out in support of the organization and its mission to advocate for those in the most need.
“For the weather to be threatening, I think this turnout is great,” she said.