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Police answer call, serve for charity

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Wearing a uniform and a smile, about a dozen Clayton County police officers served customers at Joe's Crab Shack in Morrow Thursday - all for a good cause.

The tips collected by the officers, as well as 10 percent of each bill accompanied by a coupon, will go to benefit Special Olympics Georgia, according to Clayton County Police spokesperson, Lt. Rebecca Brown.

Officer Gazzara Hill waited tables during the lunch shift. "I just want to help out the kids with Special Olympics," he said. "We love the kids," said Hill, who is a Clayton County Police school resource officer.

Clayton County Chief Staff Attorney Michael Smith is one of several county employees who stopped by to support the effort at Joe's, which is located at 1965 Mt. Zion Rd.

"I came out for the event, because I saw it in the newspaper yesterday," he said. "I know the police department and other departments work hard for Special Olympics, so I came out to support it, and get a good lunch," said Smith, who ordered the crab cake burgers with rice.

"I had the crispy shrimp and hushpuppies," said Clayton County Staff Attorney Christie Barnes. "Mr. [Michael] Smith told me about it [Cops and Crabs], and I wanted to support the police department and Special Olympics," she said.

"One of the [Clayton County] judges gave me a check for Special Olympics for $25, so the county employees have come out," said Lt. Brown, who was among the officers serving patrons at the restaurant.

Linnea Wynn, assistant general manager of the Morrow Joe's, said this is the first time the Mt. Zion Road location has participated in the Cops and Crabs fund-raiser. "We've mainly done school fund-raisers," said Wynn.

Schools, churches, and other community groups often participate in fund-raiser night at the Morrow restaurant, according to Wynn. "It brings us business, and it helps them to raise money," she said.

Wynn said fund-raiser night can take place any day, Monday through Thursday, on a date determined by Joe's marketing department and the organization holding the fund-raiser. Just as with Cops and Crabs, 10 percent of the bill accompanied by a coupon goes to the designated organization.

Wynn said she was excited to learn that the restaurant would also help raise funds for Special Olympics Georgia, which provides year-round sports-training and athletic competitions for more than 22,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. "I'm a new parent, so it means a little more when you have your own child, and that could be your child," said Wynn.

In addition to serving up crab legs, burgers and steaks Thursday, during three shifts for lunch and dinner, several Clayton County police officers took a break to participate in the line-dancing that often erupts at Joe's. Wynn said it's customary for the staff, and customers who want to join in, to hit the dance floor every 45 minutes.

"We have the Cupid Shuffle, the Cha-Cha Slide, and the Car Wash," she said. "Everyday, that's part of what we do. That's the Joe's atmosphere. That's part of why people come here," said Wynn.

The Cops and Crabs fund-raiser was scheduled to take place at all six metro Atlanta Joe's Crab Shack restaurants Thursday, according to Allison Kaczenski, director of special events for Special Olympics Georgia. Kaczenski said Special Olympics has also teamed up with Joe's Crab Shack restaurants in other states for fund-raising events, including in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Nevada.

For more information on group fund-raisers, contact Tara Loper, sales coordinator for Joe's Crab Shack Southeastern Markets, at tloper@joescs.com.