Goldsboro city councilmen think a concept created by a local man is a great idea but still needs tweaking to get funding for an attempt at a Guinness World Record.

Bill Sutton, who created a pledge called Hug and Love Key, went before city council Monday during a work session seeking $42,000 in support of getting a record number of parents and caregivers simultaneously giving their children a hug while looking in their eyes saying, “I love you.”

That is the premiss of Hug and Love Key and should be done daily, he said.

Sutton said he wants to hold the record-breaking attempt in the Goldsboro Event Center on July 13. Pledges have already come in from 120 families willing to be a part of the event, he said.

He said he hopes to have at least 500 families pledging to be part of Hugh and Love Key by July, he said.

Sutton said Hug and Love Key is a tool to combat child neglect and child abuse. He told the board there were many incidences where children are not getting that reinforcement from their parents.

“It can lead to guns, gangs, violence, poverty and an overburdened prison system and self-destructive behavior,” Sutton said.

But love reinforced every day can change lives, he said.

Yevette Handy demonstrated how Hug and Love Key could break the Guinness World Record by standing with her daughter holding her arms out and saying, “All I want is Hug and Love.”

The attempt will involve all the participants wearing the same color T-shirts and hats and forming the shape of a key, Sutton said.

As a child, Sutton said he grew up neglected and abused, which left him angry and confused. He vowed to find ways to stop it for other families, he said.

Councilman David Ham asked Sutton if he felt passionate enough about attempting the world record to justify the $42,000 he was asking for.

Sutton said he was. The reason jails are filled is because of the lack of bonding between parents and children, he said.

“I wholeheartedly agree with you,” Ham said.

Councilman Bevan Foster, who had never heard of anything like Sutton’s attempt, said he thought it would be a great event. But he also thought Sutton should look at other ways of reducing the budget he was seeking and utilizing social media.

Councilman Antonio Williams agreed with Foster.

“You’ve got to think outside of the box,” he said.

Sutton said if Hug and Love Key gets the Guinness World Record, he thinks it would be a boost to tourism in Goldsboro, comparing it to the National Hollerin’ Contest held in Spivey’s Corner.

“If we could get a letter of support, it would help,” he said. “We’re trying to set a record and I can’t see us doing it without the city being involved.”

The council took no action on Sutton’s request for funding.

Sutton is the founder of the nonprofit Keys to Healing, which seeks to promote positive behaviors through resolutions, including the Hug and Love Key concept.