On Wednesday morning, April 27th, Sarah Padgett and Sallie Hitchcock, both of the Branson office of Missouri Probation and Parole, delivered numerous toys and movies to the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office. These ladies delivered items that had been donated by the Junior Auxiliary of Taney County.
The items included toys, movies, sketch pads, and markers to be used in the children’s waiting room within the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office. Child witnesses, including children who have been victims of various forms of abuse, often are required to wait for long periods of time before being called upon to testify at court proceedings. During these waiting periods, the children often stay in the children’s waiting room at the prosecutor’s office. “The room is designed to give children a comfortable, low-stress place to play or watch movies before and after the often traumatic experience of testifying in court or deposition,” said Jeff Merrell, Taney County Prosecuting Attorney.
“I am extremely thankful for the generous donation from the Junior Auxiliary and the local District 21 Probation Office,” said Merrell. “Our entire office was touched by the thoughtfulness of the donation. These items may not seem like a big deal to people outside our system, but in reality they will make a huge difference in the experience of children required to participate in trials and court hearings.”
“Because of obvious budget limitations, it is not feasible to use our allotted funds to equip the child waiting room with the sort of great toys provided today by the Junior Auxiliary. These toys will help children who come to our office for many years to come,” said Merrell.
April also happens to be National Child Abuse Prevention month. The Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, through its prosecuting attorneys, staff, and Victim-Witness Advocate Sally Catlett, serves dozens of different child victims and child witnesses every year. “Working with children can be the most rewarding and also the most heart-wrenching part of the work we do in this office,” says Catlett.