QHotels presents 7th annual CASA Christmas gift exchange

Published 9:58 am Saturday, December 10, 2022

LAPLACE — For the past seven years, the QHotels team has been a source of consistency in the lives of children placed in foster care during the holiday season.

QHotels received Christmas wish lists and purchased 166 toys for foster children in St. John the Baptist Parish, Slidell and Lake Charles. The presents were presented to Child Advocacy Services staff this week as part of the 2022 CASA Christmas gift exchange.

QHotels CEO Vimal Patel first learned about Child Advocacy Services through a conversation with a local realtor who expressed how children in foster care are often overlooked and rely on volunteers to give them a voice and sense of consistency.

“Before that, I wasn’t aware of CASA at all. Every year when we present the gifts, people will come across our post on Facebook, and sometimes people will ask us what CASA is,” Patel said. “There are still a lot of people not familiar with what CASA does, so I think there is need for more awareness and support for the children.”

On Wednesday, a batch of toys was delivered to the new Child Advocacy Services Office that serves St. John the Baptist Parish as well as St. Charles Parish from 13726 River Road Suite 100 in Destrehan.

Lead Advocate Supervisor Audrey Alexander said the number of St. John Parish children in foster care has fluctuated not because of a decrease in the need for services, but as a result of changes in laws including the Family First Act.

“Instead of pulling kids out of homes, they are trying to put services around the homes,” Alexander said. “The hurricane is also a factor. Families are still suffering and homes are still damaged. The numbers have gone up and gone down, and they are a bit higher than they were last year, but we are sending kids home quicker.”

Alexander said Child Advocacy Services is grateful to QHotels for offering consistent support through the years. This year’s gifts reflected the age range of local children in foster care, from diapers for an infant to a decorative rug for a 17-year-old girl.

Advocate Supervisor Jodi Luna said advocates will pick up donated gifts from the CAS office during monthly visits, and the children and caregivers are always very thankful for what they receive.

Christmas gifts aren’t the only way the community can band together for children in need.

“We need volunteers,” Alexander said. “We have a waiting list, the biggest waiting list we’ve had for a while in St. John. We have 11 children waiting, which might not seem like a lot, but it is a lot, and it’s hard to get folks that are willing to travel when our kids are placed (in foster homes) as far as Slidell.”
For more information about Child Advocacy Services, visit childadv.net