FARMINGTON — Several families gathered early Thursday morning at the Homestead Bakery to enjoy a free pancake breakfast.

It was not only a special treat for children during their April school vacation, but also provided a meaningful connection with children and families in observance National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

This year’s theme was “Strengthening Families and Communities.” Each child was given a blue pinwheel, a symbol of childhood. 

“I think it’s important to provide opportunities kids don’t normally have,” Maine State Trooper Mathew Casavant said. “Some positive impact. School, home is positive, but they need constant reinforcement.”

Casavant also is chairman of the Franklin County Children’s Task Force Board of Directors.

The Task Force provides other unique opportunities to celebrate children and families such as the Children’s Festival and the Father-Daughter Dance, he said.

Before reading “Hands are not for Hitting,” and another selection to the children, Casavant enjoyed some time with his own daughter, Emma.

The breakfast, co-sponsored by the Children’s Task Force, the Farmington Rotary Club and the Homestead Bakery, draws more than a couple hundred people, said Laurie Danforth, who works at the restaurant.

“It’s good to see so many young kids out for breakfast before 9 a.m. and all the volunteer help,” she said. 

A combination of Rotary Club members, Children’s Task Force employees and volunteers, restaurant staff and additional volunteers served pancakes, eggs, home fries and other items from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Salem Hughes from Livermore didn’t let her family forget the special day.

“She’s reminded us all week,” father Tony Hughes said as he and his wife, Sara, enjoyed breakfast with their three daughters, Salem, Ophelia and Noelle.

When Renee Blanchet, executive director of the Children’s Task Force, spoke to the Rotary Club a few years ago about providing opportunities for children, Rotary members were ready to help, she said.

“We do it to help support children and the community,” Tom Sawyer, Rotary president, said.

“The breakfast event is also held to raise awareness that it takes a total community effort to support our Maine families and children,” Blanchet said.

In 2003, the breakfast was held at the Sweatt-Winter Day Care. Casavant read to the families then and continues to do so, she said. The Homestead Bakery offered to host the event.

The blue pinwheels were offered to children as they entered the restaurant and were greeted by Logan and Aaron Whitley.

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