North Gulfport Friends Feed Hungry Volunteers

"Got some leg quarters here," said James Buckley as he proudly opened up a smoker. The aroma of lip-smacking barbecue drifted through his North Gulfport neighborhood Thursday morning.

"You can get ribs, but you can't get them like this anywhere," Buckley said. "It's good country cooking."

Buckley certainly knows the right ingredients for a delicious meal.

"Bell peppers, celery, you got all the good stuff in there," Buckley said as he stirred a pot of turkey necks.

Buckley and his friends cooked enough food to feed hundreds of volunteers. Some of those volunteers built a new house for his grandmother, who lost her home in Katrina.

"Got to give back to the people that come down here and give to us, give and rebuild Mississippi," Buckley said. "We got a long way to go, but they help us come a long ways. Without them, no telling where we'd be at right now."

At noon, the volunteers lined up at the Good Deeds Community Center to sample the dishes.

A lady server asked one volunteer, "You want dumplings or greens?"

"I want some collards, right over here," he responded.

Serving up free meals is their way of saying 'thank you' to the volunteers. Many haven't had a hot lunch in days.

"I think it's really good," said Andrea Goodnight of Michigan. "The barbecue sauce is really good."

For Goodnight, it was her first taste of Southern cooking and hospitality.

"I think it's really nice," said Goodnight. "It's great that they're thanking us this way. We were actually talking about how love tastes, and this is the perfect example."

Buckley said, "It's a blessing to be here, and give back to them."

James Buckley and his friends have also cooked free meals for Red Cross workers and people in the neighborhood. He has worked for various restaurants over the years, but plans to open his own place in Orange Grove soon.