Mike Murray, right, publisher of the Times Leader Media Group, presents a $500 check to John Aciukewicz, left, executive director at the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Luzerne County, and Brennan Morell, CASA program director. The check was presented as part of the Weis Markets/Times Leader Media Group Year of Giving program.
                                 Bill O’Boyle | Times Leader

Mike Murray, right, publisher of the Times Leader Media Group, presents a $500 check to John Aciukewicz, left, executive director at the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Luzerne County, and Brennan Morell, CASA program director. The check was presented as part of the Weis Markets/Times Leader Media Group Year of Giving program.

Bill O’Boyle | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — The Times Leader Media Group and Weis Markets have awarded the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Luzerne County program a $500 check as part of the “Year of Giving” program that recognizes a different nonprofit each month.

The program is a way for Weis Markets to engage more closely with the communities in which they operate.

CASA’s mission is to assure every abused and neglected child in Luzerne County has a safe, permanent, loving home and the support to become a healthy, empowered adult.

John Aciukewicz, executive director at CASA, said he knows that children who are assigned a CASA volunteer are half as likely to re-enter foster care.

“We know that children who are assigned a CASA volunteer spend less time in foster care,: Aciukewicz said. “And we know that children who are assigned a CASA volunteer perform better in school.”

Aciukewicz said since 2013, 198 children in Luzerne County have been matched with a CASA volunteer.

“Along with our friends at Weis Markets, we are extremely pleased that CASA of Luzerne County was selected as the March recipient of the Weis Markets/Times Leader Year of Giving Award of $500,: said Mike Murray, publisher at the Times Leader Media Group. “The services CASA provides continue to touch the lives of so many young people in Luzerne County. Our congratulations to John and the entire CASA team for this well deserved award.”

Aciukewicz provided an update of the CASA program:

• 12 new advocates will complete training on May 5.

• With these 12 new advocates, CASA will have 58 advocates and expect to increase the number of children with an advocate from 75 to 90.

• Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Rogers will conduct a virtual swearing-in ceremony for new advocates on Friday, May 7, @ noon.

• CASA’s next training class for new advocates is scheduled to begin on Monday, Sept. 27.

• Recruitment for new advocates will begin with an Information Session on Friday, May 14, @ 4 p.m. More information can be found on the CASA website: www.luzernecasa.org.

Aciukewicz said CASA’s next fundraising event is the fourth annual “NEPA Sings” performance to be broadcast at the Garden Drive-In on Thursday, June 24, beginning at 7 p.m.