Lawrence students design, build, market treehouse for annual CASA benefit

photo by: Kathy Hanks

This year's Douglas County CASA playhouse has been made to look like a treehouse by the Lawrence high school students who designed and built it. It has been on display at 901 Iowa St. and will be raffled off Sept. 6, 2019, at a gala benefiting the organization.

A leafy treehouse, complete with a tire swing, is the latest playhouse designed and built by local students to help raise money for Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA.

The playhouse, which is currently parked roadside at The Merc Co-op, 910 Iowa St., was created by high school students enrolled in Charlie Lauts’ design-build class at Lawrence’s College and Career Center. The project was sponsored by Mar Lan Construction, which paid for the supplies and helped guide the students, CASA board member Sarah Cauthon told the Journal-World.

CASA has had a playhouse raffle for more than 20 years, Cauthon said, and local students have had a hand in the construction for the past several years. This year’s design was selected by the board from three designs presented by the students, who then worked on the structure, Cauthon said. The treehouse design includes a climbing wall leading to a balcony, a rope ladder, a secret door and a hammock on the interior.

Another local high school class partnered with CASA for the first time this year. Free State High School’s “Drag Strip Road” marketing class, led by instructor Amber Nickel, developed a new marketing strategy for raffle ticket sales and helped with the project’s social media efforts.

“We needed some fresh ideas … it worked out great,” Cauthon said.

Cauthon said this year’s fundraiser is critical because an increasing number of children in foster care are awaiting a CASA advocate, and more staff and more volunteers are needed to serve those children. CASA volunteers advocate for local children who have been abused and neglected and are under the protection of the court.

Tickets to win the treehouse, which is valued at $4,000, are $20 each or $50 for three tickets. They can be purchased at the CASA office, 1009 New Hampshire St., or online at The winning ticket will be drawn Sept. 6 at the organization’s annual CASAblanca fundraiser at the Jayhawk Club.


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