JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A huge community fundraiser Thursday tempted the taste buds of barbecue lovers. In the end, it will help fill the stomachs of hundreds of hungry school children in Pascagoula and Gautier.
If only you could smell the aroma of marinated meat drifting from two large smokers.
"They've been cooking all night long, so the whole neighborhood smells really good," said Colleen Larsen, Backpack Buddies of Pascagoula President.
"It's just really awesome," said a volunteer who was enjoying a plate of food.
The barbecue pulled pork lunches and the cause behind them drew a steady crowd to First Presbyterian Church in Pascagoula.
"We're hungry," a pastor from a nearby church said as he picked up two meals.
"It smells good. We could smell it in the parking lot," said the Rev. Jeff Trehern. "Backpack Buddies is an awesome, awesome ministry. They do a lot of great work."
For the first time, Backpack Buddies of Pascagoula and Backpack Buddies of Gautier hosted the joint barbecue fundraiser. Each plate of pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans and chips sold for $8. Whole pork butts cost $35.
"It's just overwhelming. The community has been so supportive of this program, and it's just a great feeling, because what we do stays here in the community," said Larsen.
Volunteers hoped to sell 2,000 plates. The money raised will go to purchase nonperishable food items. The food will be placed in the backpacks of at least 225 needy schoolchildren every Friday afternoon, so they'll have something to eat at night and on the weekends.
"This is an opportunity to give back to the community and lets those kids be full," said volunteer Debbie McLendon.
As people filled their stomachs with tasty barbecue, they also filled a big need in the community.
"It'll help us be able to purchase additional foods. The churches have been great, and the companies have been great about donating, but we run out so fast," said Larsen.
The volunteers sold about 1,600 plates during the four-hour fundraiser. They raised more than $12,000.