CAIRO — A local business owner's three children took it upon themselves to make a $500 donation to a local group dedicated to fighting drugs.

Jennifer Horne's children Madeline, Jackson and Kennedy presented the check to Drug Free Grady chair Nola Daughtry on Friday afternoon.

"The Horne family brings hope to preventing drug misuse and inspiration that they recognize the need and purpose Drug Free Grady has in their community," Daughtry said.

The donation came about because Horne's youngest daughter Kennedy wanted to donate stuffed animals to the Grady County Sheriff's Office for children whose parents are incarcerated.

"I wanted to share some with other kids, especially some of those who might be going through hard times," said Kennedy, 9.

Horne's other children jumped at the chance to contribute as well once they learned of their younger sibling's plans to make a charitable donation.

The children had saved the money from a vending machine they run inside Maryland Fried Chicken restaurant, which Horne co-owns along with her husband Jeremiah. Revenues from the vending machine are placed into a savings account, and Horne expects her children to donate a certain percentage of that money to a charitable cause each year around Christmas.

"It's very important to Jeremiah and I that we teach them to give back and to bless others as we have been blessed," Horne said. "Now they look forward to it."

Once the children heard what Drug Free Grady stood for, they became excited at the prospect of donating to them.

"(Kids) can get into drugs just as bad as adults can, and it could be a hard lifetime for that kid to go through what they are going through, and drugs aren't the right decision," said Horne's daughter Madeline, 13.

The contribution is the first into what Drug Free Grady board members hope is a new source of income.

Grady County officials announced last month that support to Drug Free Grady, which comes from the Drug Abuse Treatment and Education (DATE) fund, will have to be eliminated as drug court receipts, the primary source of income for that fund, continue to dwindle. 

The group's budget will be completely depleted Dec. 31, though they plan to continue operations based on charitable donations like the one made by Horne's children.

"We hope that this is going to set the stage for more businesses to get behind us and support us and our awareness program that we're doing to try to reach children and adults for preventative issues when it comes to drug use," said Capt. Chris Luckey of the Grady County Sheriff's Office, who sits on the Drug Free Grady board of directors.

Even after the donation, the kids' work with Drug Free Grady isn't over yet. As part of community service, the children will help launch Red Ribbon Week for drug awareness and prevention later this month by placing signs and ribbons around the City of Cairo.

"It is important for kids to understand drug awareness because (if) kids know what it is and see it, they can report it to either a parent or an adult," said Horne's son Jackson, 11.

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