The 211 pairs of little shoes paid hommage to the number of children in Texas last year who died of abuse or neglect.
The angelic face of a toddler on a blue T-shirt represented a recent victim who died in Orange. The paternal grandfather of 18-month-old Raydyn Jones of Mauriceville, who died on March 18, attended a Friday ceremony for Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. The grandfather wore the child’s picture on his shirt for the Go Blue Day event.
Raydyn’s death was ruled a homicide and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office says his mother, Raychyl Philmon, is “a person of interest” in his death.
His was the second child murder in Orange within a month. In February, 2-year-old Savannah Roque of Orange was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Her father has been charged with capital murder.
The ceremony, organized by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office, was moved to the covered front area of the Lutcher Theater because of the threat of rain. Dozens of people, including a state judge, deputies, Orange police officers, the district attorney, and county commissioners attended.
Assistant District Attorney Krispen Walker had earlier asked the community to donate 211 pairs of new childrens shoes to be displayed to represent the victims from last year. The shoes are now going to the Rainbow Room for state Child Protective Services employees.
CPS starts legal procedures to remove children from dangerous home situations. The children often need clothing, diapers, shoes, and other supplies before they are sent to a foster family. The Rainbow Room is a community-supported donation center to help CPS get the needed supplies.
Walker said one girl in Orange used her birthday money to buy a pair of shoes. The girl was part of the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club and the children made donations.
The Garth House brought two Brittany spaniels that are used as therapy dogs. The Garth House joins with law enforcement to provide a safe, homelike place for children who have been victims of abuse, including sexual assault, to talk with adults.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) also set up a table with information and forms for volunteers. Adult volunteers are trained to help accompany children through court procedures needed to remove them from a dangerous place.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-