The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 21, 2012

Public administrator seeking public’s help to fulfill wards’ wishes

By Susan Redden

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Angie Casavecchia, Jasper County public administrator, is looking for help from area residents to fulfill the holiday wishes of about 200 wards of her office.

This will be the fourth year for the effort, designed to make sure county wards who have no funds get something for Christmas. Area residents who want to help may take an ornament, representing a ward, from a Christmas tree that has been set up in the lobby of the Carthage courthouse.

“The tree has ornaments with their first names and ages, and wish list on the back,” Casavecchia said. “Every year we’ve done this, we’ve had every single person ‘adopted’ off the tree.”

Casavecchia said wards in nursing homes normally ask for items such as sweatshirts and sweatpants, socks and slippers, while younger wards want games and gift cards.

Residents who make the purchases are to put the gifts under the tree by Dec. 18. They may wrap them and attach the ornament, or take them unwrapped.

“We can wrap them if they’d rather not, and we’ll get them all delivered by Christmas,” Casavecchia said. “They’re always thrilled when they’re able to open a gift.”

Since the program has been under way for several years, residents already are calling the office, Casavecchia said, “to ask about it and say they want to help.”

She said her office this year has added a new element to the program, designed to make sure wards have supplies of personal care items such as shampoo, deodorant, razors and soap.

“We’re putting some smaller trees in local churches and some areas that have ornaments with a single personal care item listed,” she said. “We’re hoping to gather enough items to send a personal care bag to each of the wards, along with their gifts.”

If an abundance of items can be collected, those that are not sent to the wards at Christmas will be kept to meet needs throughout the year.

Three churches have signed up for the program, and four or five more are considering it.

“We’ve also had a couple of nursing homes pick up trees to put in their lobbies,” Casavecchia said.

Organizations that would like to get involved may contact the public administrator’s office at 358-4271.

Administrator duties

THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR’S OFFICE oversees the needs of residents who have been declared disabled or incompetent by the probate court, and who have no one else who can serve as guardian.