The University of Southern Mississippi’s Children’s Center for Communications and Development (CCCD) will support United Way Southeast by hosting its sixth annual Treats for Tots Bake Sale on Oct. 25.
The CCCD is a transdisciplinary program that serves over 90 children from 22 South Mississippi counties.
According to the CCCD website, the children represent a range of disabilities that include various communication and developmental disorders such as Down syndrome, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, autism, Rett syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, aphasia, apraxia and conditions related to premature birth.
Samantha McCain, the CCCD’s communication coordinator, said during every therapy session the children are provided snack breaks. During snack time, the children pick out their desired treats.
“It’s almost like an event for them,” McCain said. ”Especially for our children who are dealing with texture or taste issues.”
After the children pick out their treats, therapists work with them on how to open the packages, count the food and process how they consume it.
McCain said the CCCD has its own way of teaching.
“Everything here is a lesson,” McCain said. “Everything from outside, to snack time to actual therapy curriculum. We do all of those things and use every opportunity for a child to learn.”
Additional fundraising includes “employee giving” by which employees at the university donate a percentage of their paychecks to United Way every month.
“It’s the best way to make the most impact by one donation,” McCain said.
The CCCD also hosted a random drawing for a basket filled with items from campus partners and local businesses; the items include homecoming game tickets, Southern Miss merchandise, gift cards and more.
“Events like this allow us to continue our services with our parents,” said speech pathologist graduate assistant Candice Franklin. “The center is free for parents and in order for that to happen, we have to have fundraisers like this.”
Franklin said her experience as a graduate assistant is “hands-on.” As an assistant, she provides an extra set of hands for the therapist and has an opportunity to enhance her skills as a speech pathologist.
“Working with these children on a daily basis I see how much the volunteers truly mean to them,” Franklin said. “I think they truly enjoy having visitors. The more supporters and the more money we can raise, then the more children we can bring into our center.”
All of the funds raised at this year’s bake sale will go directly to United Way Southeast agencies.