Donuts for dads at church



Last fall, one school district in the area where I live had a “Donuts and Dads” day. It was centered on the “Dads, Take Your Student to School Day.” This was the second year of this brilliant idea. The first year, only fifty dads showed up for doughnuts. But this year word got out, and there were 300 dads who showed up to eat doughnuts with their children.

Can you imagine how excited those elementary-age kids were to have their dads bring them to school and spend time eating donuts with them? According to the article “Dads, doughnuts a hit at Take Your Student to School Day” in the Panama City News Herald, one of the schools said,  “By 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, dozens of dads, with their students in tow, already were crowding the sidewalk, eating doughnuts together for Dads Take Your Student to School Day.”

At another school, “dads lined up around the block, with more circling the parking lot looking for spaces. So many names were run through Raptor, the service used to run background checks for visitors, that it crashed.”

While the topic is interesting and exciting, what I found the most intriguing was what the dads who had been raised in single-parent homes had to say. Several dads who had been raised without dads said things like,

I think it’s important for the ones that don’t have fathers for someone to show them they care.”

       “My dad wasn’t around, so I think it’s very important to do as much as I can with them.”

All of the dads were excited to be sharing doughnuts, but the dads raised without a dad in the home seemed to be exceptionally interested in being there for their children.

This got me to thinking about the many children in our churches who don’t have dads or have dads who travel and can’t be with them at church. And, of course, there are the kids who come to church without a dad. I live in an area where there are several military bases around us. We have many kids in our church who have dads out of the country for extended periods of time.

What if churches had a “Donuts & Dad Day” right in the middle of spring? A kid who doesn’t have a dad available could be paired up with an older grandpa-like man. You might call that person a buddy dad or a grand-buddy. Do you have any idea how excited a military mom or a single mom raising her kids alone would be?

It would be an opportunity for kids who don’t have fathers in their lives to know that someone at church really cares about them.

After this event, perhaps the buddy dads and grand-buddy dads could do some follow up by helping with baseball, soccer, or Scouting events. (1)

Do you see where I’m going with this? The “Donuts with Dad Day” could be the tipping point for some kids in divorced and single-parent homes to get connected with trustworthy men at church.

Why should we care

The church and children’s ministers and workers should care because the statistics for kids without a dad are serious. Kids without dads in the home or kids without access to the dad do not fare well in our society. Let’s take a look at what the statistics tell us:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 85% of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes
  • 85% of all youth sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home
  • 53% more likely to marry as teenagers
  • 111% more likely to have children as teenagers
  • 164% more likely to be a single parent
  • 92% more likely to divorce if they even marry. (2)

These are frightening statistics, but kids in single-parent homes without access to dads or with minimum access to dads don’t have to have these outcomes. My own son and daughter grew up in a single-parent home. They are healthy, functioning adults today with good careers. They were supposed to have visitation with their dad every other week, but many times he didn’t show up. As they grew into the teen years, band concerts, track meets, debate events, work schedules, and church activities interfered with his visitation. Most of the time he chose not to attend any of these events.

However, men in our church filled in the gap more than once. These men filled in with advice and comments that a single mom couldn’t provide. Other times these church men gently gave fatherly advice. Where they might have said the same thing I did, it was better coming from a man.

I remember one time in particular. We were on our way to church after an ice storm. My teen son was driving. Being a young driver, he was sure he knew how to drive on the ice. All went pretty good until he waited too late to try and make a left turn and skidded right past the street he was trying to turn on. After sliding sideways down the road a good distance, he slid into a parking lot, where the car did a complete turn around.

After church he was to drive himself to work. One of the men in our church saw him standing in the parking lot. He went over and asked what was wrong. This wonderful man with a teenager of his own, gave gentle and great advice about driving on icy roads.

Hosting a donuts and dad day and providing dads for kids who don’t have access to a dad or rarely see the dad will provide a great opportunity for Christian men to form relationships with these kids.

In my church on DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) and DivorceCare night, various classes in our church provide a meal. The kids love it when the men’s group provides the meal. They always purchase pizzas and the men stand behind the counter and serve everyone. The kids love to see those men standing behind the counter putting pizza on the plates and pouring the drinks and handing out the desserts to these kids. I love to stand back and watch the reactions of all the kids.

It would be very simple to host a donuts and dads event. Just have donuts on hand, napkins, coffee, and juice or water for the kids. It would only take a few minutes for each dad or buddy dad and kid to eat a donut together. And boom: little kids have made connections with their dads or buddy dads at church. I can see the happy faces now.


(1) One word of caution should you decide to host something like this and pair buddy dads with various children—and especially for those who want to get active in children’s lives outside the church—do a background check. We can never be too safe when it comes to little kids and their safety.
(2)  Statistics come from Game Day Coffee at


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