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Highway Superintendents and Caseworkers from Social Services with gifts

About 240 children living in Cattaraugus County will have a merry Christmas through the generosity of the Cattaraugus County Town Highway Superintendents’ Association.

The gifts are for children in foster care placements and for children receiving preventative services through the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services (DSS). Preventative services are assistance the department offers to families to prevent children from entering foster care. The county currently has 41 children in foster care and the remainder of the children receiving presents are receiving preventative services. Many of the families receiving preventative services don’t have the financial means to purchase gifts for the children.

Jesse Blakesslee, Case Supervisor for the department’s child welfare unit, said the association has been donating toys and gift cards for at least five years. Many of the gift cards are given to the teenagers placed in group homes. He said it is great to be able to give the children gift cards because it fills the gap allowing them to buy stuff for themselves that their families would typically purchase.

“We count on these toys yearly to give the children a bright and merry Christmas,” Blakesslee said.

Evonne Phillips, director of services for DSS, said that the donations are valuable to DSS because it provides gifts to children who are overlooked at Christmas. She and her staff feel immense responsibility for the children they serve and they aren’t able to go out and buy gifts for all the children.

“The generosity of the superintendents is an immense blessing – that they think about and donate to kids who otherwise wouldn’t receive gifts,” Phillips said.

For more information on how to become a foster parent or how to help the foster care and preventative services programs, contact Jesse Blakesslee at 716-701-3565 or



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