Callaway County Head Start is in need of a few good men.
About 100 of them, in fact. The program's 14th annual 100 Man Lunch event is scheduled from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 5. RSVP by calling 573-642-3201 by Feb. 19 to participate.
"Remember your first role model and how they inspired you?" said Kellie Pontius, of Central Missouri Community Action, which operates Head Start. "Well, here is your chance to become someone's first role model and inspire others."
During the lunch, men in the community gather to eat, read books, blow bubbles, do crafts and spend time with the children at Head Start. Head Start provides preschool to children up to 5 years old. The agency's focus is on low-income families.
CMCA's Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide education services that support the mental, social and emotional development of children from birth to age 5, as well as providing programs that address children and their family's health, nutrition and social needs.
"It's just because we're trying to promote male involvement and literacy at the same time," Head Start team leader Teressa Huskey said before last year's lunch. "A lot of children don't have that male role model in their lives, and studies show that having one can help (lower) crime rates and drug usage."
Responsible and respectful interaction with male role models promotes a child's physical well-being, helps children expand their horizons and increases their ability to take initiative, according to CMCA.
Huskey added men who work in the community as city workers, firemen, police, lawyers and so on are particularly welcome. Returning volunteers include the mayor, county commissioners, first responders and law enforcement. Women can sign up, too.
Last year's participants said they saw the value in the event.
"Any time you get to spend time in the community is good," said Lt. Steve Kistner, an agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation, during the lunch. "As a dad, I know it's important. I try to get out and let kids see me in uniform — they need to see the uniform as a good thing."