It began with an unsolicited and unexpected telephone call from a Sawyer native by the name of Albert Shirley who is employed as a Construction Manager for Flint Energy Services Ltd., “a leading provider of engineering, construction and technical services for public agencies and private sector companies around the world”. Mr. Shirley contacted Little Dixie Community Action Agency’s (LDCAA) Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program director, Mrs. Karla Luginbill. He explained that members of his crew (work crew) have a tradition of placing their names in a hat and pulling from the hat one name. That person, representing Flint Energy Services, gets to select a charitable organization for the company’s philanthropic activity in their area. Mr. Shirley stated: “My name was drawn out and I have selected Little Dixie’s CASA program.” Mr. Shirley had learned about the CASA program from a conversation with his daughter and thought it sounded like a very worthwhile cause. He explained to Mrs. Luginbill that he had contacted the company’s charitable committee to seek assistance in the project which resulted in a $1,000 check from Flint Energy Services. As can be imagined, Mrs. Luginbill was ecstatic and overwhelmed with emotion as she accepted this wonderful gift on behalf of LDCAA. Then, without notice, a separate check, also in the amount of $1,000 arrived at Little Dixie CAA’s administrative office. It was from Communities Foundation of Oklahoma. This organization serves as a vehicle for donors across the entire State of Oklahoma. Corporations, Non-Profits, Individuals and all others that want to contribute assets to charitable causes can do so by contacting Communities Foundation of Oklahoma. They matched dollar for dollar the generous donation provided by Flint Energy Services Ltd.
To promote giving at the local level, Flint Energy Services advertised the event in local newspapers seeking donations of toys or cash for the fast growing and now titled “CASA Toy Drive.” In no time, local residents began to bring toys to various Little Dixie office locations. Mrs. Luginbill also contacted Brenda Needham, Executive Director of LDCAA for approval to set up a table at the agency’s annual In-Service event as a “toy collection site” where LDCAA staff could bring donations of toys or cash. LDCAA’s annual In-Service is attended by the bulk of the agency’s employees with an estimated attendance between 200-300 staff. Soon, word of the “CASA Toy Drive” had spread throughout the community and two Antlers Oklahoma organizations, Pushmataha Hospital Auxiliary and the Antlers United Methodist Women’s group contacted Mrs. Luginbill to donate toys to the cause. On Monday, December 17, Mr. Shirley visited Little Dixie CAA’s administrative office with boxes upon boxes of toys that had been collected by a Flint Energy Services crew based in Wyoming. He also brought with him more checks, one from a Texas-based business “All American Garage Doors” and a separate one from a family out of Louisiana. He stated: “There’s more to come.” And there was, two Choctaw county residents arrived a short time later, once again, bearing gifts for the “CASA Toy Drive.” Mrs. Luginbill, holding back tears of joy said: “Sometimes, we forget just how kind and generous people can be when you just provide them with the opportunity to give…Everyone has been so kind and so giving which I know is not easy during such tough times. I just want to say “Thank You” to Mr. Shirley for he is the one that got the ball rolling and it really did snowball from there. Because of all the donated toys and cash donations, we are going to be able to bring Christmas to approximately 350 children in Little Dixie’s Service Area. Hopefully, we will be able to make this an annual event.” Little Dixie CASA has partnered with Foster Care Services in all three counties. They will identify the families exhibiting need and provide resources for distributing the toys. For more information about LDCAA’s CASA program, contact Karla Luginbill at 580-271-0929 or 580-298-2921.