JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - First responders enjoyed a free lunch and dinner in Jackson County on Friday. They served up a hot meal, along with a strong message of support.
The menu featured chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage hot off the grill, and desserts made from scratch. Volunteers invited first responders across Jackson County to drop by to enjoy a free barbecue and words of support.
"Appreciate everything y'all do," Randy Dudley told a group of officers.
The employees of Alvin Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company at the Sunless complex, hosted the day-long cookout.
"There's been so much hate in the news lately, and we just want people to know how much we love them and how much we appreciate them," said Alvin CEO Crystal Penney.
More than a dozen other local businesses contributed food, supplies, prizes for the drawings, and of course, cooking skills.
"I love to give back, so it's an honor to do it," said Bobby Walker of Ocean Springs.
It was a touching time for the volunteers and for the officers who shared in the feast.
When asked if he has ever experienced anything like it, Ocean Springs officer Len Underdone replied, "Not to this extent, no. I think it's very nice. It really means a lot to the officers to see the community is fully behind us. It's good to be appreciated."
Many volunteers also wore t-shirts with the phrases: "Blue Lives Matter" and "All Lives Matter".
"We love them and everybody matters. All lives matter," said Penney.
Some of the prizes that were given away included coolers, tumblers, grills, and restaurant gift cards.