Children removed from abusive and neglecting homes by the court will benefit this year from the money raised by the Woodward Elks Rodeo Benefit and Dance. Half of the money will go directly to train community members to pair up with a local child, getting to know them personally, and being a voice in court.

Woodward Elks Rodeo Benefit and Dance is Saturday, Jan. 26. A cowboy dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Silent and live auctions follow at 7 p.m. for several firearms, hay, rock, handmade quilts and much more. Northwest Passage will provide entertainment for the dance.

The beneficiaries this year are the 4th Judicial District Court Appointed Special Advocates (4JD CASA) and Northwest Literacy Council (NWOLC), according to Chairman Kevin Kornele.

This is the first year the Elks have donated to 4JD CASA. The Woodward CASA office has had some changes in administration recently. Local donations now all go to support the local office, serving local children, according to Brianna Witchey, Woodward 4JD CASA advocate coordinator.

“We are beyond grateful and excited to have been considered by the Elks for their benefit,” Witchey said. “CASA is a nonprofit organization, and the money will go to support the training and recruitment of new volunteers.”

CASA trains and equips volunteers to be a voice in court for a child who has been removed from their home. Each volunteer, called an advocate, is paired with a child. Advocates take the time to really get to know the children, according to Carole Wade, Executive Director. 

“A CASA has to get to know that child and nothing else,” Wade explained. 

While DHS workers and assigned attorneys are overwhelmed with their workloads, the CASA volunteer takes time to focus full attention on that child. The volunteer has to report to the court filling in missing pieces the attorney and DHS may not have, according to Wade.

The other half of the Elks benefit will go to the literacy council.

“The Elks have donated to us before. Last year they gave us $500, and we used it to buy books for our students,” said Linda Harrison, program coordinator for the Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council. “The Woodward Elks do so much to support education causes in our area, and we are absolutely thrilled to be selected as a recipient of their yearly fundraiser.

“We have a long list of needs, but all of them are directly related to the instructional needs of our students.”

According to Harrison, the NWOLC is a nonprofit that serves adult students in Woodward, Harper, Dewey, and Ellis Counties. They offer basic literacy services and assist English-language learners with the Oklahoma driver’s license exam and with U.S. citizenship.

“The far majority of our students are seeking English-language acquisition,” Harrison said. “We offer night classes in Woodward, Laverne and Buffalo along with private/small group tutoring in Woodward only. There is no charge for any of our services.”

Admission is $20 a person at the door or tickets can be purchased from Dr. David Peck’s office on 1201 10th St.

For more information, call 580-256-6021.