Guardian ad Litem volunteer Jessica Engel is working with Usborne Books & More and Voices for Children, GAL’s sister company, to get books as holiday gifts for children in the GAL program.

The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and giving, so when local Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer Jessica Engel learned that the toy-count for children in the program would be very low, she decided to raise funds for books so these kids could all have something to open up.

Working with her friend, April Golombek, Engel is hosting a book drive with Usborne Books & More where people can buy books for their own kids, and then that money will go towards purchasing books for GAL kids.

“I work directly with a lot of these kids and I wanted to make sure that they could have something to open, even if it’s not a toy. Every child deserves to have something for the holidays,” said Engel.

The GAL kids’ books will be shipped directly to Voices for Children (VFC) in Tampa, a sister company to GAL. Since GAL is a government-run program, it isn’t allowed to directly accept donations, so VFC collects toys, books, school supplies and money for kids in the GAL program.

Speaking of, along with the gift of books, VFC is collecting toys and games for GAL kids through its Amazon Wish List. The purchased gifts will be distributed when the holidays are closer. If you want to help get some gifts for these children, visit

On what GAL volunteers do, Engel explained, “I give a voice to those who usually go unheard. The children in our foster care system that have been either abused, neglected or abandoned and, at no fault of their own, have found themselves in the care of the state … Ultimately, our goal is always to try to reunite the family; unfortunately, that is not always the healthiest or safest action we can take. But I make sure the court knows the child’s wishes as well as, based on my experience, what the best situation and course of action should be for these children.”

The book drive is hosted at and lasts until Thursday, December 10. For any questions or to learn more, visit

For more information about Guardian ad Litem or if you’re considering becoming a volunteer guardian, visit To learn more about Voices for Children, visit

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Taylor Wells
Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.