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Teens get needed champion for holidays

Fort Pierce – Teenagers often are the forgotten children of the community toy drive.

"They're older, they don't believe in Santa and a lot of people can't relate to them," said Christina Kaiser, Community Relations Director for Devereux Community Based Care, the nonprofit organization that oversees the child-welfare system in Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast.

But those same reasons demonstrate why teenagers need the magic of Christmas as much as younger children, she said.

"They often have experienced trauma longer, they need something to believe in, and they need to know the community hasn't abandoned them," Kaiser said.

Minton Law, P.A. has a message for these teenagers: You are not forgotten this holiday season.

The law office, based in Fort Pierce and specializing in criminal law, will coordinate a gift drive specifically for children ages 13 to 18 this holiday season, said Tiffany Wile, the firm's paralegal. All teenagers on a St. Lucie County dependency caseload will be included in the drive.

"That means that each of the 120 teenagers in foster care or protective services in St. Lucie County will be covered this year," Kaiser said. "And that makes it easier for us to get gifts for younger children - because we can cover a lot more children with our other sponsors."

This is the second year Minton Law has sponsored teenagers for Christmas through Devereux Community Based Care's Making Christmas Bright gift-collection project.

The firm's initial 2015 drive was inspired by a local dependency judge, Wile said.

"Judge Heisey told us he planned to donate to Making Christmas Bright because most years the teens were left out," she said. "That's when Minton Law got involved, hoping to change things around."

Teens have always been included in Making Christmas Bright, now in its 17th year, but they are much more difficult to serve, Kaiser said. Having a sponsor come forward to focus on teens tremendously increases the number of gifts that can be collected.

More than 22 individuals, including local law firms and Indian River State College, contributed to the firm's collection last year, producing gifts for more than 80 teens.

Attorney Ashley Minton said she believes every teen will be served this year.

"In the season of giving, it's important that we as a community make sure that no child is left out," she said.
Interested in becoming a sponsor in the Making Christmas Bright program? Call 772-528-0362 for more information. You may also email Tiffany Wile at tiffany@mintonlawpa.com if you are interested in donating to teens.

Together, Devereux Community Based Care and the Guardians are collecting gifts for approximately 1,000 children in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.

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October 21, 2016

Contact: Christina Kaiser
(772) 528-0362