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Area prepares to celebrate 25th annual Grandparents Day

By Michael Davis

Tracy Hull of Locust Grove had never heard of National Grandparents Day until her church mentioned a service just for those parents of parents.

"The church has a Grandparents Day Sunday," said Hull. "They do it every year and they give out gifts and have a special service just for the grandparents," she said.

After the birth of their daughter Jeni, the Hulls and Tracy's parents, Vernon and Margie Ashe, celebrate Grandparents Day along with the Ashe's anniversary.

Jeni and her mother spent part of Thursday making Grandparents Day cards, and after church Sunday, plan to spend a special day with Jeni's "nanny and paw."

"Now we've been celebrating Grandparents Day for four years and it's my parents' 51st anniversary," Tracy Hull said.

National Grandparents Day was first established in West Virginia in 1973. Honoring that state's elderly was a primary goal of the holiday's founder, Marian McQuade.

In 1978, McQuade convinced Congress to pass legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day.

And as the 25th anniversary of the national holiday is here, some local grandparents are using the occasion to spend quality time with their families.

Grandparents Marcene Johnston and her husband Jim, plan to spend time with their two grandsons, Jonathan, 11, and David 3, at their home in McDonough.

Eating watermelons from Jim's backyard garden is one of Jonathan's favorite things about time with his grandparents.

"What we're planning to do is go over to their house and cut a watermelon. They have one that's 59 pounds," said Jonathan Lawrence, Marcene's grandson.

"We'll probably stay over and have a big supper," he said.

Bonnie and Tom Knitter of Riverdale said their five grandchildren are coming down from Virginia to visit.

"We plan to take them all to the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain," Bonnie Knitter said. "It's one of their favorite things to do," she said.

Cindi Cooper of Rex said she and her son Mitchell will be taking her parents Doug and Diane Cooper to church to be honored on Grandparents Day.

"We did it last year, too," she said. "And I'll cook for them and give them each a gift."

Mitchell, 8, said he likes to spend time with his grandparents, because, "they take me out to eat and we play football."

"I've got six grandchildren?and they're kind of my life," said Doug Cooper.

Pastor Roger Davis of Berean Baptist Church in Ellenwood said his church has been celebrating Grandparents Day for the last five years.

"We have a special Grandparents Day service where we recognize all of the grandparents and provide a gift for each one," he said.

The service also includes awards for the oldest and youngest grandparent, the grandparent with the most grandchildren and the grandparent with the most grandchildren present at the service.

Some local Wal-Mart stores are also helping to celebrate Grandparents Day. Harold Miller, manager of the Riverdale Wal-Mart, said to honor the grandparents of the community, his store will be "giving away gifts to grandparents who come to the store."

Wal-Mart will also be donating money to benefit several local adult and youth organizations.

Youth organizations at Valley Baptist Church and Mothers Rebuilding Atlanta in will be receiving Grandparents Day grants from Wal-Mart stores in Clayton County.

Flint River Boy Scout Council and Rock Springs Church will be receiving donations to benefit older adults from Wal-Mart stores in Henry County.