Little Black Dress raffle raises $9,500

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2015


On Tuesday, the Little Black Dress committee members presented Decatur County Family and Children’s Services with a big check in the amount of $9,500. Front row, left to right are Jessica Wynn, Ashley White, Joy Key, Leah Delanoy and Melinda King. Back row: Randee Eubanks, Janelle Cleveland, Landin Marzolf, Melissa Cundiff, Latasha Jackson and Phillip Richardson. Members not present for the photo are: Heidi Hall, Katie Marzolf, Beth Briggs, Ash Smith, Lisa Martin, Solaine Tyre and Jennifer Boutwell.

Fifty children currently in foster care in Decatur County will have a Merrier Christmas thanks to the efforts of the many who participated in the Big Green Egg raffle conducted by the Little Black Dress Committee.

Tickets sold for $10 each and the Department of Family and Children’s Services was presented with a big check in the amount of $9500 on Tuesday.

Chief organizer, Joy Key, said the drawing was held on December 5, and the lucky winner of the kamado-style charcoal cooker was Nancy Jernigan of Donalsonville.

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Key expressed thanks to the many different local businesses and individuals who helped support the fundraiser, with a special thanks to CARE Chiropractic and Stones Store for donating the cooker.

The money will be used not only to provide Christmas, but will go a long way toward helping the children go shopping for new clothing, personal care items and school supplies.

Key points out that many of these children are removed via emergency situations and come to DEFACS and the foster homes with only the clothes on their backs.

The numbers of children in foster care continue to grow almost daily. At the time of the first article in November, there were 33 in care. Now there are 50.

According to Jackie Bridges, Decatur and Calhoun Counties DEFACS director and Resource Development Director of a 14-county area, there is a critical need for money and resources to care for the growing caseload of neglected and abused children. “We have had a tremendous increase in reports of abuse and neglect all over the state, not just Decatur County. We are almost double what we were last year,” explained Bridges. She thinks one factor for the increase is the availability of an 800 number available 24/7 so people can call immediately upon learning or experiencing a problem.

Unfortunately, Decatur County only has four active foster homes at this time. This often results in having to place children in surrounding counties. Bridges said they make every effort to place them with a responsible relative. They do extensive background checks of the people and homes they use.

DEFACS will be making a concerted effort to recruit and train new foster parents in the upcoming year. Interested parties must take an IMPACT course, in addition to undergoing the background check.

Bridges acknowledges that not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent, but there are still things they can do to help. They can mentor a foster child or provide respite emergency short-term care until other arrangements can be made.

Bridges said the efforts of the Little Black Dress committee are life-saving for DEFACS. Without that funding, they would not be able to provide Christmas nor celebrate birthdays, while providing for daily needs.

Beginning four years ago the committee worked hard to sponsor a yearly dinner dance event that was very successful. Key said the amount raised this year met their goal, and was just about the same amount as last year’s dinner-dance.