Spectators watch as 4,000 tiny rubber ducks race down a makeshift course Saturday during Clayton County CASA's 14th annual Darlin' Duck Derby. The event, which was held at the Historic Clayton County Courthouse, in Jonesboro, is a fundraiser for the organization.
JONESBORO Adriene Kershaw was driving her family past the Historic Clayton County Courthouse in Jonesboro, when inflatable slides and bounce houses caught her attention — and the gaze of her young children.
Out of curiosity, the Jonesboro family pulled over to see what was going on. They found there was also face painting, food vendors, dancing, games for children and a race involving 4,000 rubber ducks.
They had stumbled across Clayton County CASA’s 14th annual Darlin’ Duck Derby fundraiser, where people have rubber ducks which race down a makeshift race course for a chance to win a new car and some cash. Kershaw said she didn’t have any ducks in the race, but she added she will likely bring her kids back next year — with some ducks in the running.
“I didn’t know about it [this year],” said Kershaw. “I was trying to figure out how to buy a duck, so I’ll be prepared next year.”
Although the total amount of money raised through this year’s Darlin' Duck Derby is not yet known, the number of ducks sold alone points towards a large influx of money to help pay for CASA’s programs. Sabrina Crawford, co-owner of duck derby sponsor Heritage Cadillac-SAAB-Mitshubishi, said 2,800 ducks were sold for the race.
At roughly $5-per-duck, it means CASA raised approximately $14,000 from duck sales alone. The group also receives financial donations from sponsors, which could add at least a few thousand more dollars to the total haul from the derby.
That was music to Clayton County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Steve Teske. The county’s CASA program is run by the juvenile court. Teske said he bought a couple dozen ducks, himself, but none of them moved fast enough to win him any prizes.
“It’s not about winning,” said Teske. “When you a buy a duck, a kid wins.”
Teske and Gerald Bostock, CASA’s child welfare services coordinator, explained the work done by CASA volunteers, in many ways, mirrors work done by Department of Family and Children’s Services social workers.
Bostock said the group has 150 volunteers who act as advocates for children in court cases. Teske said one example of the work done by these volunteers is they perform checks for juvenile court on homes where children have been sent after they have been removed from their family’s home because of various issues, such as abuse, neglect or social and behavioral problems.
Teske said a benefit of having CASA available to the juvenile court is that they can be sent immediately to check out an out-of-county or out-of-state relative’s home if a child has been sent there.
“With DFCS, the social worker has to contact the agency in that other county and there’s just a lot of red-tape involved,” said Teske. “I can assign it to a CASA volunteer, and they could go out there that day to check out the relative’s home.”
Teske said the CASA volunteers then write up reports on the home visits for the juvenile court. He and Bostock said CASA needs a fundraising arm, however, because it costs money to pay for staff, materials and the mileage re-imbursements, particularly for the out-of-county and out-of-state home visits.
As a result, they said CASA created a non-profit fundraising arm, called Friends of Clayton County CASA, to raise additional funds through events like the Darlin’ Duck Derby.
“I always have a fun time coming out here to this event, especially getting to see the kids play,” said Teske.