McKenzie Dixon, right, and her great aunt, Electra Evans, enjoy a visit from Santa Claus while they eat breakfast at Longhorn Steakhouse in Morrow Saturday. Longhorn sold the special breakfasts every Saturday this month to raise money for Kinship Care Grandparents Raising Grandchildren families, such as the Evans family. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
MORROW — McKenzie Dixon looked up from her breakfast of eggs, grits, a pancake and bacon to find Santa Claus waving at her Saturday morning.
Dixon, 2, was enjoying a special breakfast LongHorn Steakhouse conducted to raise money for families in Kinship Cares’ Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program when the jolly old man approached. She gazed at him and gave him a little wave with a slight look of confusion on her face.
What was Santa Claus doing at LongHorn in Morrow? Shouldn’t he be at the North Pole, getting ready for Christmas?
Santa got closer and asked her an all-important question.
“What do you want for Christmas?” he asked her.
“A baby doll,” Dixon said in a quiet voice.
LongHorn has been selling the special $5 breakfasts in partnership with Ambassadors Behind CASA every Saturday this month, and it culminated with a packed house this weekend. The restaurant was full Saturday morning as families and officials, including Commission Chairman Jeff Turner and District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, came out to enjoy the final breakfast of 2013.
The Jonesboro boys and girls basketball teams and volunteers from Clayton State University helped take orders, bring drinks to tables and clean up after the breakfast.
General Manager Mike Craddith said the store raised about $2,600 this year, which was distributed Sunday among nearly two dozen families chosen by Ambassadors Behind CASA officials.
The chosen families are all members of the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program, said ABC board Chairwoman Debbie Stinson.
“It’s a special gift from LongHorn,” said Stinson. “Because of their generosity, 20 families will be supported this Christmas.”
Ambassadors officials presented Craddith with a plaque recognizing him for his support. Although his restaurant has been doing the special Christmastime breakfasts for four years, this is the second year he has done it in partnership with Ambassadors Behind CASA.
“Clayton County has been good to LongHorn and we feel as if we should do something for the community to repay them for their support,” said Craddith. “There are a lot of needy families in the community, and because we do business in the county, we feel there is an obligation for us to give back.”
Kinship Care coordinator Angie Burda couldn’t thank the ABCs and LongHorn enough for the help the partnership provides to families in the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program. She said it was good to see businesses and community organizations come together to support the community.
And the breakfast wasn’t bad either, she said.
“We’re very pleased,” Burda said. “The ABCs are such a wonderful group for doing this for our families, and LongHorn too.”
And the support wasn’t lost on some of the families in the program. Although they are not technically raising grandchildren, Forest Park residents Electra and McArthur Evans are raising relatives.
They are the great aunt and uncle of McKenzie Dixon and her sister, Anijah Dixon, 8, and brother Alijah Dixon, 11. The children are in their care.
“It’s good to see so much support for families in the program,” said Electra Evans. “I think it’s excellent that LongHorn did this.”