CASA’s Annual Turkey Trot Raises Funds for Children in Foster Care

Keep the “giving” in Thanksgiving by joining Carroll County CASA for their annual fundraising Turkey Trot race. These funds go directly to benefit foster children by enabling CASA to purchase essential items for them.

“Many children enter foster care with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” explains Briana Evans, Carroll County CASA executive director. “These funds will allow us to purchase clothing, school supplies, and pay for any other necessities that may be requested from DFCS for the children. These funds are not used for program operating expenses. Funds from the Turkey Trot go directly to benefit children.”

Last year, more than 100 participants joined CASA for the race and helped the organization raise around $7,000.

The Turkey Trot began years ago as the Color Run, hosted by Tisinger Vance, with the proceeds benefiting CASA. Tisinger Vance decided not to continue the Color Run last year, so CASA took on the challenge and updated the idea to create the Turkey Trot. 

Adults and children alike enjoyed visiting with Santa at the 2019 Turkey Trot. Left: 2019 CASA Board Chair Cason Hightower and right, race volunteer Becky Preston. 

CASA wants to make sure everyone who is interested has a chance to participate, so they offer several race options, including a 5K, 10K, 1-mile fun run and a Gobble Wobble for younger children, ages 3 and up. Other activities include a holiday costume contest and photos with Santa. 

This hunter and her catch scored first place medals during the 2019 Turkey Trot costume contest. 

Last year, more than 100 participants joined CASA for the race and helped the organization raise around $7,000. “This year, even with COVID, we expect to hit that same number, or maybe even higher with the 10k race option being added. We have organized the race to align with COVID regulations by adding a virtual race option and reorganizing the structure of the race to ensure safety and social distancing,” Briana says.

CASA Executive Director Briana Evans, right, with Recruiting and Training Coordinator Stephanie Cater judged the costume contest.

About CASA

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Their mission states, “Through the power of volunteer advocacy, Carroll County CASA works to ensure that all victims of child abuse and neglect are given a chance to thrive in a safe, permanent home. CASA’s trained and supervised volunteers provide an independent voice for children, one child at a time, by speaking for their best interests in the family court system.” 

CASA volunteers are trained individuals who work with children in foster care to ensure their voices are heard and advocate for their safety while in the system. These volunteers submit CASA reports to the judge for each hearing so he may have a better understanding of what is going on in the child’s current placement. The volunteer addresses any issues and concerns about the case and makes recommendations to the court for the child’s well-being until permanency is achieved. 

Currently, there are about 180 children in foster care in Carroll County, and roughly 55 volunteers serving half of those children. “Our goal is to have all children served by CASA volunteers,” Briana shares. “It is important that we recruit and train adequate volunteers to speak up for the remainder of the children in care who do not have a CASA volunteer. DFCS often becomes overwhelmed with their caseloads and tend to change case managers often. CASA volunteers are usually that one stable person in the child’s life.”

She explains that CASA volunteers serve as another set of eyes and ears for the judge. It is important for CASA volunteers to gather information regarding the case so the child’s needs and wishes are not overlooked while in foster care.

How You Can Help 

If you’re interested in volunteering, the first step is completing the online application and scheduling an interview. Approved volunteers attend 30 hours of class training and 10 hours of court observation. Training classes usually occur twice a week for four weeks. “However, due to COVID, we have been offering virtual Zoom classes with limited in-person contact,” Briana says. 

CASA encourages volunteers to work on their case on their own time. “The only thing we require is that each volunteer sees their child at least once a month,” she explains. “Usually, a CASA volunteer with one case may spend 10 to 20 hours a month working on their case. However, it depends on the case and the time available from the volunteer.”

CASA also appreciates donations, which you can make through the website. There is still time to become a Turkey Trot sponsor as well. 

Also, mark your calendars for CASA’s Holiday open house on Dec. 10. “Individuals may stop by the office and bring any unwrapped gifts or gift cards that will go directly to children in foster care for the holidays,” Briana shares. “This is a great time to also learn more about CASA and ways to help.” CASA provides light refreshments for the open house. 

The organization serves boys and girls from birth to age 18, so nearly any toy, age-appropriate gift or gift card is needed and appreciated. For more information, call 770.838.1964, email Briana Evans at or visit For more information on the Turkey Trot’s COVID-19 Safety Guidelines, to sign up or become a sponsor, visit WGW

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