News 13 Charity Challenge
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Guardian Ad Litem Association

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:16 PM EDT
News 13 has an exciting new challenge to help give back.

Our morning anchors are spotlighting three local charities every month.

One airs each Monday morning, and after the third week, we open up the voting to our viewers.   

You will be able to go to the WLOS Facebook page and vote for which charity you think deserves to win $1,000 dollars from our partner, Bryan Easler Toyota.

Last week, we told you about "Rutherford Housing Partnership."    The group repairs homes for senior citizens who may not otherwise have the money.

Two weeks ago we told you about "WNC Brain Tumor Support."  They bring together people who are fighting brain tumors and the devastating side effects.

Our last charity in the running this month is "Guardian ad Litem Association" or GALA.

They make sure abused and neglected children have a voice in the courtroom.

Kids need a voice in court too, that's the message and purpose of "Guardian ad Litem Association" or GALA.

Jennifer Nehlsen, district administrator, "the way it used to work is the department of social service was heard in court.  The parents were heard in court...but no one knew anything about what the kids needed and wanted."

The group trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system.

"Our volunteers are community members who are really concerned about children.  That's the number one requirement you have to be a volunteer"

The volunteers are paired with attorney's to ensure the kids legal rights are protected.

If the kids are old enough and willing they can even express their concerns to the judge with the help of GALA.

Coby Wellshear, program supervisor, "Asheville is very unique.  Asheville has almost 100% volunteer representation for our abused and neglected kids because of the incredible people who move here and the incredible locals who all want to take care of their community."

170 volunteers put in thousands of hours of time and some even use vacation to go to court with the children.

The group also goes one step further and takes donations to help kids buy things that foster parents sometimes can't afford.

The fund covers everything from basic a school supplies to summer day camps.

"We also want to help kids participate in sports.  Any activity that is esteem building. We pay for prom dresses  we pay for athletic equipment anything that can give a sense of normalcy."

A thousand dollars could go a long way to boost that fund for those kids who have already been through so much.

To find out more about "Guardian ad Litem Association" or GALA, click here. Guardian Ad Litem Association

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