On May 13, 2015, CASA of San Benito County received a very generous donation of “sweet cases”, duffel bags containing blankets, teddy bears, tooth brushes, activity books and more, for local foster children who are entering the foster care system, and/or are being moved from one place to another. “So often these kids come into the system without any belongings,” said Esther Curtice, executive director for CASA. “For them to have something to call their own makes a difference.”
The Sweet Case Project came about when Jillian Wilson, project organizer and senior library technician for Gavilan College, learned about sweet cases for foster children through an organization called Together We Rise. “I follow [Together We Rise] on Facebook, and I loved hearing their success stories,” said Wilson.
Wilson immediately knew she wanted to work with the organization after learning that she needed to complete a leadership project in order to obtain her master's degree. “I had the idea that I wanted to work with this organization and actually do these sweet cases because I thought, this is something that’s really simple, but it makes a big impact," she said.
For Wilson, choosing this project was also personal: as a young child, she herself had been adopted into a loving and supportive home. “I always knew I was adopted… it wasn’t a secret. We are all open, and it is a best case scenario,” she said.
When it came time to pull all the elements of the project together, Wilson's family was happy to step in a help out. Her biological mother, Susan, adopted sister, Alicia, adoptive mother, Connie, and even Jillian’s teenage son Simon were all on board to help transform the plain duffle bags into sweet cases.
Wilson also received support for her project from students such as Taja Khan and Lydia Riojas from the Rho Alpha Mu (RAM) Gavilan College Honor Society and the Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA) program. Together, the group fundraised, decorated, assembled, and donated over 40 sweet cases to CASA of San Benito County.
Just days after receiving them, one of CASA’s newest advocates had the honor of delivering the first couple of sweet cases to a pair of siblings who had recently moved to a foster home outside of San Benito County.
CASA trains and supports child advocates who work with foster children from San Benito County. The organization is also committed to making strides toward improving the quality of life for foster youth from the community. The gift of the sweet cases enables CASA to do just that.
“It is such an honor to receive this donation, knowing the impact and what this means to the children who will be receiving them,” said Curtice, who was joined by Shyloh Stearns and Joshua Mercier, social work supervisors with the San Benito County Social Services Department. “These are great, especially for those younger kids who don’t remember to take anything with them,” stated Joshua.
CASA is grateful to Wilson and her team for the wonderful duffle bags. Their generosity and dedication are setting a great example of what it means to make positive changes within the community.
To learn more about CASA of San Benito County, please visit www.casasanbenito.org or call (831) 637-4492.
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