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Duck-O-Ration tour helps fight child abuse

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

A visitor to the Heritage Cadillac-Saab showroom in Morrow was stopped in her tracks by two walls lined with highly-decorated rubber ducks on Friday. While the visitor took time to acknowledge "how cute" all the ducks were, the display highlights a much more serious cause -- child abuse.

"The rubber duck is the symbol of innocence, and that is why we chose it as our main mascot," said Gerald Bostock, program coordinator for Clayton County's CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

The ducks are part of the Duck-O-Ration Tour -- a promotional event for Clayton County CASA's 10th annual Darlin' Duck Derby on Sept. 27.

The display is slowly making its way around to businesses in Clayton County. Starting at One Rose Florist & Gifts in Jonesboro on Sept. 1, the ducks made their way to Heritage Bank in Jonesboro on Sept. 4 and to Heritage Cadillac-Saab on Sept. 10.

Coordinator Bostock, said the Duck-O-Ration tour has been held the last few years in order to create a buzz about the Duck Derby -- the program's largest annual fund-raiser. He said while the tour gives the community a chance to rate rubber ducks, which have been painstakingly (and humorously) decorated by local businesses, the tour highlights the need for child abuse victims to have a friend in the court system.

The themes of the ducks featured in this year's tour range from disco to patriotism to electric shock.

"It is good because it provides everyone with a little bit of laughter, but it also allows us to educate people on the serious topic of child abuse," said Bostock. "It can be an uncomfortable topic for people, so it's kind of like an ice breaker for us to be able to talk about child abuse and neglect and the need for CASA volunteers, so these children can have an advocate in court.

This week, the ducks will be on display at the Clayton State University Library, from Monday to Wednesday, until traveling to the Forest Park Branch Library on Sept. 18. The ducks will appear at the Riverdale Branch Library on Sept. 22 and at the Lovejoy Branch Library Sept. 23-24.

All while the ducks are traveling, local residents will have a chance to cast their votes for which duck they believe is the most decorative and creative. On Sept. 25, the winners will be revealed during a special VID (Very Important Duck) ceremony at Chili's Restaurant in Morrow, and displayed during the Duck Derby on the front lawn of the Clayton County Courthouse.

Sabrina Crawford, chairperson of the Friends of Clayton County CASA, and co-owner of Heritage Cadillac-Saab, said the Duck-O-Ration tour supports a noble cause and provides a conversation starter for any business in which they are displayed.

"It think it gives so much exposure to CASA and it's cause," said Crawford. "It's helping people who can't help themselves.

"When you have a lot of decorated ducks lying around your showroom, people are going to ask questions," said Crawford. "It gives you a great opportunity to tell people what it's all about."

Tickets for the 10th annual Darlin' Duck Derby can be purchased at any of the locations on the Duck-O-Ration tour, as well as on site the day of the event. For more information, contact Clayton County CASA at (770) 477-3268, or visit www.claytoncasa.com.