GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Proceeds raised at Friday's second annual Bow Ties and Beignets + Bacon event are slated to go to a worthy cause - the Harrison County Youth Court Shelter.
In the end, smiling faces and dashing bow ties in the Island View Casino's ballroom all served a higher purpose in raising funds and awareness for children in rough situations.
"These children are being removed from what they thought was a safe environment, and placed in a home that they're unfamiliar with," said Gulfport Councilman R. Lee Flowers.
According to Flowers, that's exactly why the community comes together. The Harrison County Youth Court Shelter temporarily takes in children stuck in limbo once they're removed from their parents' or guardians' care, and have no where else to go.
Judge Margaret Alfonso says she unfortunately sees case after case that require such action.
"None of us want to remove the child from a family," said Alfonso, who noted that removing children has been increasingly more necessary in recent years.
Nearly nine months into 2016, the youth court has already referred at 4,517 children, surpassing the total number of referrals for 2015.
"We have those extreme cases where children are physically abused. But, a lot of it is just neglect," said Alfonso.
Alfonso always knows that the children will be taken care of at the shelter, which is funded only by Harrison County and community help.
"When a child has to be removed in Harrison County, they stay in Harrison County," said court administrator, Cindy Alexander.
Children stay in the shelter for anywhere from 48 hours to three weeks under the supervision of Dianna Kuns and her staff. According to Kuns, every case is special to her.
"It's another child that needs to be loved needs to be taken care of," said Kuns.
That's what she hopes can be accomplished by her efforts, as well as the efforts of those who spend countless hours caring for kids who need it most.
The funds from the second annual Bow ties and Beignets event will help replace the bedding and repair some of the furniture in the shelter. As of Friday afternoon, the event raised nearly $32,000.