The fifth annual CASA Challenge sponsored by Thomas Genin, owner of The Blind Tiger restaurant in Old Town Bay St. Louis, raised $17,005 for CASA of Hancock County. Pictured are Genin, left; CASA of Hancock County Executive Director Cynthia Chauvin; Remi, the Courthouse Facility Dog who works with CASA to help calm and relax the children in their care; and Bay St. Louis Mayor Mike Favre.

The fifth annual CASA Challenge sponsored by Thomas Genin, owner of The Blind Tiger restaurant in downtown Bay St. Louis, raised more than $17,000 to aid the agency’s mission to help foster children in Hancock County.

“That’s a respectable total during a normal year,” Genin said Thursday, “much less considering people have been affected by the pandemic. Everyone who donated, we really, really appreciate it.”

“We really appreciate Thomas and The Blind Tiger and everyone who so generously donated” CASA of Hancock County Executive Director Cynthia Chauvin said Thursday. “In 2020, because of the pandemic, we saw a loss of $35,000 … and that’s not even counting the storm damage we had (from Hurricane Zeta). This is going to help us keep the doors open in 2021.”

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate program) of Hancock County recruits, trains and supports volunteers who advocate for children who have been abused or neglected to ensure that their best interests are preserved in court and in the community.

This is the fifth year Genin has sponsored the challenge, which he now conducts each December as part of The Blind Tiger’s “12 Days of Giving” program.

“The first year, I just donated $5,000,” Genin said.

The next year, he donated money and challenged everyone else in the community to do the same, offering to match donations up to $5,000.

A total of 37 donors stepped up for this year’s challenge, raising more than $12,000 in addition to Genin’s $5,000.

This year, Genin offered a drawing for a $500 gift certificate to The Blind Tiger to anyone who donated $500 or more to CASA during the challenge.

Bay St. Louis Mayor Mike Favre drew John Zimmerman’s name from the pot on Thursday.

In addition, Genin said, “I’m going to go down the list of (the rest of the) donors and I’m going to send them a gift certificate for the amount they donated.”

Chauvin said CASA of Hancock County will be training a new group of volunteers in February.

For more information or to become a CASA volunteer, call 228-344-0419 or email Chauvin at cynthia@casahancockcounty.org.

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