Canopy South MS Child Advocacy Center on a mission

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It’s the season for giving and what better time to host a gift drive for young people right here in our area?  Canopy South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center is working hard to do just that and you can help!

They’ve decked the halls at Canopy South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center in Gulfport, but don’t let the festive holiday decorations fool you, these dedicated workers face a tough task daily. Canopy South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center Local Multi-Disciplinary Coordinator Lisa Zimmerman said, “We service children 3 to 17. They have been a victim of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or have witnessed a violent crime. We provide forensic interviews, therapy services, victim advocacy services, and we provide an all-around multi-disciplinary approach to provide best services for the child.”

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Hitting close to home for these child advocates who have children of their own, including Cassidy Redding, who is spending Christmas for the first time with her son who’s just seven-months-old, just one of many reasons why they’re collecting holiday toys and gifts for the local children they help year round. “This job became a little harder when I became a mom. It’s hard to see children go through these kinds of things, especially through a mother’s perspective, so I’m really hoping we can have a good turnout this year and we can spread lots of joy.”

You can drop off your toys and donations at one of Canopy’s two locations-one on Watts Avenue in Pascagoula and the other on 17th Street in Gulfport. They’re looking for toys and gifts for young people ages 3 to 17, and will be collecting the toys until December 14th. “A little late in the game, but we’re hoping to spread holiday cheer this year.”

“Last year we actually had a mom who came into our conference room. She actually cried when she walked in the door because there were so many toys, and she was just overwhelmed by being able to give all her children what she had always wanted to give them.”

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....