LITTLE RIVER, SC (WMBF) - An aroma of fried chicken filled the nearly 400-seat elementary school cafeteria on Friday.
An array of smiling faces littered one wall of the mess hall as fathers and community leaders alike were paired up for a lunch full of guidance, mentorship and overall companionship.
The program, entitled “100 Men for Lunch,” began in 2015 at Waterway Elementary School as a way to introduce young children to positive male role models.
“Kids look forward to it; they look forward to that positive male role model, especially if they don’t have it at home," said Melissa Graham, principal at Waterway Elementary.
According to Graham, the program struggled to reach its goal of 100 men during the first year.
On Friday, Graham estimated that close to 150 men came through the school to eat with their children or serve as a role model for another child.
“It’s great if you can have both mom and dad there to do the job but in those situations that don’t, other people can step in and try to support from their angles," said Milton Gore, a parent and role model.
Gore, who teaches at an area high school, stresses the importance of the program beginning when the children are younger.
Dr. Rick Maxey, superintendent of Horry County Schools, and Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill were just a few of the men in attendance.
“Father figures are always important, I love it that they’re taking time to spend time with their children during the day,” said Horry County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Jones.
Jones spoke with several children throughout the evening, passing out stickers and speaking about his job.
“I’m sure they don’t get the opportunity much but I’m glad their employers let them come out and do this,” Jones said.