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Hamilton County Juvenile Court


To learn more about the CASA program or to contribute, contact Amy Pedigo at 423-209-5232.

Each sack spilled out plush stuffed animals. Penguins, ducks, cows, puppies and others filled a long conference table Friday morning in the back of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court building.

Amid the pile a volunteers had placed a few new backpacks with school supplies inside.

In the coming days and weeks, children in Juvenile Court who have faced truly difficult young lives will be greeted by an advocate holding one of the items.

"It's just a Beanie Baby, but when [volunteers] go into one of these homes, a Beanie Baby is a huge thing for some of these children," said Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw.

The items and more than $600 in contributions were donated through a recent fundraiser by the Young Lawyers Division of the Chattanooga Bar Association.

The division's president, Michael Thomas, said that one of the best things a young lawyer can do is get involved in the community.

Fundraising is one aspect, but working in the juvenile system is important regardless of the lawyer's legal focus.

"In this day and age it is really hard for a young lawyer starting in the community," Thomas said. "One of many goals is to help in the Juvenile Court system."

The donations were raised to help the Court Appointed Special Advocate program. CASA recruits volunteers who are trained by the court to research the backgrounds of abused and neglected children and advocate on their behalf, said program supervisor Denise Black.

"We could not do this without outside sources," Black said. "We have no way to access things like that."

Philyaw, who was appointed to his position in April by the Hamilton County Commission, told both groups his staff is working on programs and other areas of need that can involve outside groups.

Contact staff writer Todd South at or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.