On Jan. 4, the Ellis County Art Association presented two $400 checks each to CASA of Ellis County and Texas Baptist Home to purchase art-related materials for the children in foster care.

President and 20-year-member of the Ellis County Arts Association, Tina Bohlman, changed up this year’s holiday potluck into a silent auction which consisted of new or gently used art supplies.

Going into the event, Bohlman thought the ECAA would raise $300 — tops. But at the end of the evening, she was shocked when the donations totaled to $800.

Bohlman hopes that these donations can spark an interest and therapeutically stimulate these children.

“To be able to put this money out to the community Texas Baptist Home and through CASA to help the kids,” Bohlman said. “Those organizations don’t have the resources of parents and grandparents to provide them with this. We know as artists that, that’s an emotional outlet for people to be able to make art. We thought it would be helpful for these children to have the resource to work into their hearts.”

Jason Curry, president of Texas Baptist Home, said he felt sincere gratitude for the fact that the ECAA thought of them when deciding on whom to give to.

“We have so many needs in the regard to our kids and the fact that someone in our own community that helped us out is wonderful. We are grateful to them for that,” Curry said.

At Texas Baptist Home, Curry said the organization works with kids who come from tragic backgrounds of abandonment and abuse. He said the staff often deals with the emotional scarring from their background.

Marketing Director at Texas Baptist Home, Jennifer Walker said, “I think sometimes our kids can’t express themselves with their words but whenever they do in a creative outlet like this, it can probably help them process their emotions even more.”

She mentioned that specific donations like these are always fun so they can have the kids have new experiences.

“I think this is going to be exciting, that kids can look forward to on a daily basis,” Walker said. “But a lot of our kids are into different areas of art like painting, photography, and drawing. So I’m just excited that they can learn and maybe even come to some classes and what’s best is that it’s right here in our community.”

When Curry heard about the generous donation, he was shocked because a relationship between the two nonprofits didn’t exist before. He said him and his staff are grateful for the donation and everyone involved with the ECAA.

“That’s a testament I think of who we are but a bigger testament of who they are,” Curry elaborated.

Rhodie Rawls, executive director for CASA of Ellis County was surprised to hear about the donation after coming back from her Christmas vacation. She had something to look forward to for the kids. With this money, CASA employees will work on identifying children who have a hidden desire for art.

“Who knows, maybe it can be a life-changing thing for some children to have this opportunity for this exposure,” Rawls said. “We are excited for our kids, anything to help enhance the life of these kids, we are so excited.”

Rawls explained that the children that CASA works with come into foster care usually because they have been severely abused or neglected.

“So you can imagine that they’ve had little to no exposure to art or art appreciation,” Rawls said. “So for us to be able to provide that for them and expose them to something that they might not otherwise know is pretty awesome.”

She said her and the staff feel grateful for this donation and feel incredibly blessed to have people in the community value the work they do, serving the children.

“We could not do what we do without our community partners. They play a huge role in what we do, so we are very dependent on that community support,” Rawls said.

Since the ECAA moved into their new art gallery in the square, it has allowed the association to save and raise money to fulfill their mission of spreading the arts across Ellis County. Bohlman mentioned how when the association was in the other building, funds were mainly spent trying to maintain the structure of the church.

Also since the relocation, the number of members has escalated to 135, that total has grown from 50 in the last 18 months.

Along with having the ability to save and have more members, the association has also set aside two scholarships, one for each organization to send a child to its Summer Art Academy. This camp is designed for children who show a passionate interest in art. It is limited to 25 kids and costs $175 for the week.