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Juvenile Court workers compete in food drive

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Winners and losers show off the results of the first Clayton County Juvenile Court canned-food-drive “competition.” 

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Winners and losers show off the results of the first Clayton County Juvenile Court canned-food-drive “competition.” 

There were spies, reconnaissance missions, subterfuge, secret photos and lots of trash talk.

All's fair in war, even if it's only a canned-food war.

"People were hiding cans, they sent spies, people sending other people into units, and surprise attacks," said Stanford Cox. For the first time, Cox and other employees at Clayton County Juvenile Court Services competed against each other in a food drive for Christmas. The winning group gets a pizza party and bragging rights.

However, the real winners are the 25 families who will get a food basket for the holidays. Employee Keshia Johnson said her colleagues pulled out all the stops to help the families.

"We are extremely grateful at the response of canned goods that poured in from our employees," said Johnson. "They really stepped up to the plate by donating 3,305 cans."

Canned corn is stacked nearly to the ceiling in a makeshift storage area. Boxes of canned soup, pork and beans, green beans and ham, make walking through the office almost impossible. Another table is covered with bags of rice and beans, and boxes of instant mashed potatoes. About 45 to 50, of the 70 employees participated in the drive.

For Cox and his co-workers in the Balance and Restorative Justice unit, the scheming and secrecy paid off. Michael Richardson works in the BARJ unit, but his office is near the Court Operations area. The location put him in a prime spying spot.

"They thought if they decorated their box real pretty, it would bring them more cans," said Richardson. "But as you can see, they lost. BARJ is the only unit that even backs it up."

Deirdre Fluker said competition brings out the claws. "Everyone in Juvenile Court is extremely competitive," she said. "You just say 'competition' and someone is saying, 'What? I'm gonna win.' 'No, I'm gonna win.' It's all about who is gonna win."

The 25 baskets will be ready Monday. The families will also get a Kroger gift card to buy a ham or a turkey. Shelia Key said it isn't too late for needy families to ask for help with Christmas dinner.

"We still have plenty of canned goods," said Key. "Call the main number at (770) 473-5977, and tell the person who answers you need to fill out a form for the food pantry."

The food pantry exists all year. Stock is kept replenished by juvenile probationers working off community service hours. But Tabatha Barker hopes the community will step up to help out.

"Our goal is to get the community involved, to get more county-wide," said Barker. "We're open to receiving any organization willing to contribute to our pantry."

Hearts to Nourish Hope, a local non-profit organization, partnered with Juvenile Court to make baskets for Thanksgiving, and now Christmas.

"If we could just keep it up, maintain it after the holidays," said Barker. "People still need to eat after Christmas, they still need the support."

Contact Juvenile Court at (770) 473-5977, to make donations to the food pantry.