MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties hosted their first Snow Much Love Gala on Saturday, which provided an opportunity to celebrate the abundance of both snow and love at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Star City.

The event also served as the winter fundraiser for the organization, which works to ensure children, who are in the court system due to abuse or neglect, are placed in safe homes as quickly as possible.

During the event, a delicious dinner and open bar were provided by The Ritz Touch, while music was provided by Mish Mash Entertainment. There was also an award ceremony and prize packages.

Officials with CASA said volunteers have devoted countless hours advocating for the vulnerable children in our local area during a time when their lives are turned upside down. Many times, a CASA volunteer is the only consistent and stable adult present in these children’s lives.

“Another reason why tonight is really, really big and important for us. It helps us continue our mission to serve 100% of the foster children in Monongalia and Preston Counties, right now we are serving about 35% to 40%, but every child that ends up in the foster care system due to abuse and neglect deserves that advocacy,” said Crissi Kolb, executive director of CASA for Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties.

The Snow Much Love Awards were presented for the first time at the Gala event to honor the judge, volunteer and community partner who has gone above and beyond to help the CASA program in Monongalia and Preston Counties the past year. CASA For Kids is working to grow and expand to ultimately assign one CASA volunteer to each child who has been removed from their home because of abuse and neglect.

“We are honoring judge of the year, and this year we chose Judge Phillip Gaujot, he’s been great for the program. He listens to the volunteer’s recommendations and really takes into account that they’re seeing them every month and really getting to know them,” Kolb said. “We are also honoring our volunteer of the year and that is Emily Jewson. She has been with the program I think about four years now, she has advocated for nine children from start to finish now in the foster care system. She attends every training, really takes it seriously, and wants to learn and get better, she is just amazing and has been a great asset to the program. We are also honoring community partnership of the year, and this year we awarded that to Northwestern Mutual.”

In 2021, CASA For Kids provided services to over 250 children in Monongalia and Preston Counties.