On Thanksgiving Sunday – November 28, 2010 – take a close look at the Parade magazine in your local newspaper. Writer Brad Dunn put together a fabulous story that follows the Stewart family and their life with Flat Daddy®, or Flat Jared, while he was deployed. And here’s a piece of the story that wasn’t known yet at the time of publication: Jared Stewart DID make it home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family! We’re so happy about that. Their Flat Daddy® was one that they received through this Flat Daddy® project and that makes us proud. Read on to find out more about the program including how to donate for other families, and how to request a Flat Daddy of your own to be a part of your family during a deployment.
If you’re reading this page it’s probably because you’ve heard about the Flat Daddy® posters (Flat Mommy®, too) and the wonderful way they are being used to help children stay connected to a deployed parent. He/She is also filling the “blank space” in family occasion photos, event and trips. Just look at the pictures to see all the places they've been! It’s exciting. Many publications like the Boston Globe and the New York Times are talking about it!
The story that started “Flat Daddy®”:
Cindy, and her 19 month old daughter Sarah, introduce you to Flat Daddy®. Three months after Sarah’s dad was deployed, Cindy took a "waist up" photo (highest quality 8x10 color photo) of him, dressed in fatigues, to a local print shop (see #2 below). They enlarged it to life size (see #1 below for how to determine the finished size of the figure) and mounted it on foam board (see #3 below) - like a big, two-dimensional paper doll. "He was missing so many family gatherings" said Cindy. So, Flat Daddy® traveled to graduations, weddings, and other celebrations where he took his rightful place in the photographs (see #4 below). Copies of the photos were sent to Daddy overseas so he could see where he'd traveled. Cindy kept an album at home of everywhere Flat Daddy® has been... even tucking Sarah into bed. Speaking of Sarah, real Daddy received a Flat Sarah, minus the foam board, so he could see how much she'd grown.
Some How-to’s and photo tips for Flat Daddy® as shared above:
Finished size measured using either person’s width between shoulders – if they are still home, or the measurement between shoulder seams on a dress shirt left at home.
Use a printing source that is capable of copying blueprints, or has a “plotter”. They need to enlarge from a high quality 8 X 10 photograph or preferably a digital photo that is at least 2MB . Note that I’ve been told as I travel, that many bases, posts or armories have AV/graphics departments that have the capabilities to create these figures for you at a fraction of the cost! So check it out while looking for a printer in your area.
Use black foam core or color the white edge with a black Sharpie® marker so it doesn’t show up in photos. You can find the styrofoam board (similar to what kids use for Science Fair display boards) at hobby shops or art supply stores. “Dry Mount” the full size photo to the foam board BEFORE cutting around it. The person who enlarges that photo may also be able to mount the picture. If you do it yourself, ask at the art store for what you need to dry mount. This may also require heat like from an iron on low setting. The foamcore you mount to should be easy to cut around the figure with an Exacto® knife.
When taking pictures, tip figure slightly forward to avoid glare.
So…you don’t want to make a Flat Daddy® Poster yourself?
You’ve probably discovered by now that going to a “Big Box” print shop (I won’t mention names) is way too expensive – well over $100! Try these ideas for a less expensive alternative:
Start by checking with the graphics department at your local armory, base or post. I've been told by lots of folks that they have helped by blowing up the photo and then the families can spray mount it on Styrofoam board and cut around it with a craft knife pretty easily. As long as the department has a "plotter" (copier to make extra large color copies) then they can do it. Just be sure to give them a digital photo file to start with that is of the highest resolution (at least 2MB) possible for blowing up. The best size to make is the “waist up” figure. They are much easier to transport and set up in photos.
Go to a local printer in your community and tell them what you're looking to create. Often, the smaller ones like to be a part of helping out and will create it for much less money...or maybe even donate it. It's worth a try. I’ve just discovered that OfficeMax copy centers now have large format printers and are capable of making Flat Daddy® Posters up to 24” X 36”. The prices start at $29 but are printed on a standard paper that is not very sturdy. You will definitely have to mount them on foamcore board or pay for laminate.
Status of the Free Flat Daddy Program established in 2006:
In 2003 we began receiving donations from caring people to help us provide a Flat Daddy for FREE to families who requested one. Since September 1, 2006 SFC Graphics, in Toledo, Ohio has embraced the responsibility and expended the effort to make the Flat Daddies and Mommies, and help promote the program by receiving larger donations. The company established a website and online ordering system to make it possible, and has received and filled thousands of orders. The program has garnered the attention and praise of children, spouses, groups and organizations, not to mention the media from around the world. You can purchase a Flat Daddy for yourself or as a gift for $40 plus shipping at www.flatdaddies.com.
Over 9,000 orders valued at over $35,000 have been given away to date. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services.
We all thank SFC Graphics for their partnership in this program, and I encourage you to consider still going the route of paying $49.50 to get a Flat Daddy® printed on strong adhesive vinyl directly through them at the information below or at their website: www.flatdaddies.com.
110 E. Woodruff Ave.
Toledo, Ohio 43624
Together we can put a Flat Daddy® Poster in homes around the country!
If you’d like to help, learn how at www.flatdaddies.com for larger donations-$250 or more, and if you would like to sponsor 1 or 2 to families who are waiting for theirs, go to www.OperationConnectAFamily.com for a quick and easy way to help immediately for $250.