Calhoun County residents can get a full tank of gas, a handful of snacks and help local children just by shopping at the SAMCO on U.S. 78 in Oxford next week.
All sales up to $35,000 at the station, located at 2031 U.S. 78 East, from Feb. 23-26 will be donated to the Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Cheaha Region, a child advocacy agency in Calhoun and St. Clair counties that works with kids whose parents are in the court system.
According to Lori Adams, outreach coordinator for CASA, the event came together during a Thursday lunch discussion with Sam Mousa, owner of the SAMCO chain of convenience stores. Mousa donated $25,000 to the organization last year after learning that it needed more volunteers to meet the needs of over 400 kids in the Calhoun County court system. This year, he decided to host a CASA representative in-store, who could help spread the word about the organization, explain volunteering and help customers see how their purchases would help local children. Adams said Mousa’s act of charity seemed spur of the moment.
“We didn’t even know we were getting this,” Adams said Thursday evening, with clear excitement in her voice. “We literally just had lunch with him today.”
It costs about $1,200 per child per year to have an appointed advocate, Adams said. Right now the agency has four full-time employees and around 50 volunteers serving about 250 kids, she explained, of the 400 with parents in the county court system, and about another 200 from the St. Clair County system. The court appoints an advocate to a child when their parents are involved in cases including neglect, abuse, drug addiction or other behaviors that could bring child care into question. Advocates, in turn, spend time with the children and make sure their needs are met and are part of legal discussions.
Adams said donations like Mousa’s cover things that the county Department of Human Resources might not be able to provide, like the cost of registering for soccer at school or buying a prom dress. In Christmas, a family with a CASA lost their home to a fire, but the organization was able to replace some of the family’s lost possessions and help get them back on their feet.
Mousa said Thursday evening that he wants more people to learn about CASA and donate their time to county kids.
“There are a lot of good people in Calhoun County who I think would come in and be charitable with their time and money,” Mousa said. “And hopefully we’ll be able to help every kid in Calhoun County.”
The fundraising event begins at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning and lasts until midnight Thursday, Adams said. Learn more about volunteering at cheahacasa.org.