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'All they need is a chance': Paper Doll project raises funds for court advocates

Paper Doll Project, Claremore (1).jpg
Posted at 4:52 PM, Apr 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 10:07:30-04

CLAREMORE, Okla. — Court Appointed Special Advocates is raising awareness about their mission of serving and protecting children in northeast Oklahoma through a six-county-wide competition called a "Battle of the Counties."

Through CASA’s Paper Doll Project, individuals, businesses, organizations, and anyone else can sponsor a wooden cutout doll throughout April for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

CASA of Northeast Oklahoma is challenging its six counties to have the most dolls and raise the most funds to give back to the advocates who help those children who are removed from their homes.

What is CASA?

The mission of the Oklahoma CASA Association is to present a statewide voice for abused and neglected children.

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and speak up for abused and neglected children to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service systems or languish in the foster care system. CASA volunteers stay with each child until he or she is placed in a safe, permanent home and the case is closed. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the one constant in their lives and often, the one adult who cares only for them.

“A lot of our foster kids come, they don’t have anything with them, or what they have can all be fit in a Walmart sack,” said Angela Henderson. “It’s not enough to really help our foster parents to be able to clothe the children, so we want to make sure these kids have the clothing that they need.”

The dolls are meant to be either brought with their person or stationed up in their place of work for people to see.

Paper Doll Project, Claremore (1).jpg

Henderson said they serve as a conversation starter to educate people in the community about the need for support.

“Our kids, to protect their confidentiality, we don’t show pictures of them or really tell stories about them because their privacy is sometimes the only dignity that they have left,” said Henderson. “So this project allows us to put a face to the children that we serve.”

While the county that comes in first receives a prize and bragging rights for the whole year, the clothing that each doll gets adorned with will be given back to their foster children.

The education of what is going on in one’s own backyard is what Mark Ogle learned when his wife first proposed opening their home up to foster children.

“I said ‘Oh Karen there are no foster children in Rogers County, I would know, I’m plugged into the community,’” he said. “Well at that very time, there was, I think the state of Oklahoma was averaging 10,000 children a month needing a home. It’s just something that people don’t talk a lot about.”

In the decade they were foster parents, Ogle believes he and his wife cared for more than 70 children on top of their five biological children. While their home was open to have children placed, he said they were never without a foster child.

RELATED >>> Green Country teen raising awareness around foster care

Whether it was a short stay or weeks on weeks, Ogle consistently saw these children arrive with the clothes on their backs and nothing else. In some situations, they had a small bag of belongings.

“You gotta remember, in a lot of cases law enforcement or DHS are removing from the home so its whatever they can take in that short amount of time to bring with them," said Ogle. "That’s not a lot of items.”

2 News asked Ogle how being a foster parent turned employee for a non-profit agency for children changed his life, and he said it altered his entire perspective, making him more grateful for the upbringing he had.

Volunteers are another need that the Paper Doll project battle is hoping to generate. Ogle said for anyone considering getting involved, 'if not you, who?'

WATCH: The need for volunteers is great. 2 News spoke with CASA for Children in Muskogee last year:

CASA For Children in Need of Volunteers

“Is it sad? Yes, it’s a sad situation. Can you make a difference? Yes. Are you going to be blessed beyond measure? Yes,” he said. "We’ve seen them go off to college, we’ve seen them be great adults, and all these kids need is a chance, whether that’s helping them return to their family and being successful there, or being adopted, they just need a chance.”

Anyone in Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa, Rogers, and Washington interested in learning more or getting their own doll can contact Ogle at 918-694-2510 or at

Those sponsoring a doll aren’t required to raise funds. Henderson said it’s enough to educate more about the kids in need in their community.

Any funds raised through the Battle of the Counties help CASA continue to recruit, train, and support needed volunteer advocates.

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