November 29, 2013
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New Orleans Saints Punter Thomas Morstead, right, watches as a foster child blows out the candles on his birthday cake.​

Winn-Dixie stores in New Orleans have teamed up with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for a number of projects that benefit foster children.

One such project, “Candles of Hope,” recognizes foster children on their birthdays. Winn-Dixie, CASA, Saints Punter Thomas Morstead and his wife, Lauren, who was in the foster system as a child, work together each month to operate the project.

Winn-Dixie has contributed to the effort through the donation of birthday cakes. CASA delivers the cakes to foster children on their birthdays, and at the end of each month, CASA hosts a birthday party for children who had a birthday that month. The children reunite with siblings and friends, play games with Morstead, and, of course, eat lots of cake.

“CASA wants to express complete gratitude to Winn-Dixie,” said Dennis Lomonaco, vice chairman of CASA board of directors. “A cake is something simple, but it gives each foster child a precious memory to last a lifetime. In the midst of tragedy, where there are few moments or reasons to celebrate, I’ve seen Winn-Dixie’s cake light up a foster child’s face. Most of these children have never had a birthday party in their lives, much less a birthday cake.”

Also in the works is an extravagant playhouse, designed and decorated by local artists, notably Terrance Osborne. The playhouse will be raffled off, with all proceeds going to CASA’s efforts to help foster children. Winn-Dixie will support this project by promoting the playhouse in stores with displays and artist meet-and-greet events.

Last week, in honor of National Adoption Day, CASA set up tables in Winn-Dixie bakeries and offered customers free cake samples, with the goal of raising awareness about adoption options and helping foster children find forever families.

During the holidays, Winn-Dixie will also support CASA’s Christmas party, where 350 foster children and their families will gather to celebrate the season.

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