By Joel Hall
Between the hours of 11 a.m., and 6 p.m., today, diners at Chick-fil-A's Jonesboro Dwarf House restaurant will have an opportunity to help bring children in the social-services system closer to their fathers.
Throughout the lunch and dinner hours, the Jonesboro Dwarf House will host a "Spirit Day" supporting the Everyday is Father's Day event, a father-child bonding day being hosted by the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) on Oct. 25. Diners at the restaurant will have the option of placing their receipts in a "Spirit Box." A portion of the sales from receipts placed in the box will be donated to DFACS for the event.
According to Laurence Nelson, Clayton County DFACS social services administrator and coordinator of Everyday is Father's Day, the event has grown from a "pay-it-forward" challenge from the state's DFACS chief, into a cooperative event, leveraging local resources for the sake of promoting male parental engagement.
"On July 31, I got $100 from Mark Washington, deputy director for the [Georgia] Department of Human Services ... to grow this event," Nelson said. "We have made huge leeway. The response we have gotten from the community is that it is about time we do something like this. A lot of groups have agreed to partner with us."
With the help of monetary donations and in-kind contributions, Clayton County DFACS is bringing the fathers of children under DFACS care into Jonesboro for a day full of activities aimed at giving children a chance to get to know their fathers, from whom they are separated, Nelson said. The day will include fatherhood and parenting workshops, moonwalks, organized dodgeball and kickball games, face painting, talent shows, and other games, he said.
Nelson said "Spirit Day" at the Jonesboro Dwarf House will be a way to generate funds for the events that cannot be covered by in-kind contributions.
"[Clayton County] Parks and Recreation is providing us with tents, tables and generators for the event," Nelson said. "The Country Inn and Suites in Morrow has agreed to donate four rooms to us for fathers who are coming from out of state to see their kids. We need vendors, we need volunteers, and we need donations still, so we can add on to activities throughout the day.
"Chick-fil-A does a lot for the community and they do a lot for children in foster care," Nelson continued. "We're going to be passing out information to the public about the event and [telling people] how they can get involved."
Dawn Teasley, marketing director for the Jonesboro Dwarf House, said an event like Everyday is Father's Day is needed in the community.
"For [DFACS] to get involved on that level, it shows that they are not just there for people to pull a number," Teasley said. "They are extending themselves. Sometimes, so many fathers do want to have that relationship with their children, but sometimes the father can't get there, or the mother won't bring the kids to the father."
The Everyday is Father's Day event will take place on Oct. 25, from 12 to 5 p.m., on the grounds of the Eula Ponds Perry Learning Center in Jonesboro.
The Jonesboro Dwarf House is located at 7348 Tara Blvd., in Jonesboro. For more information about "Spirit Day" or to donate, visit www.everydayisfathersday.net.