HURLEY, MS (WLOX) - Times are hard, and Lori Austin is feeling it.
"You can definitely feel it everywhere. I work in the restaurant industry; I'm a server," Austin said. "People aren't going out to eat as much. They are trying to conserve, with gas prices so high and whatever, and no one is spending as much. And it's kinda felt everywhere."
But despite the financial pinch, she donated cleaning supplies to Ike victims at Circle B Farms in Hurley. In exchange, she and her family rode horses for free. The event was the farm's way of helping out. Anyone who donated items for Ike victims got a free horseback ride.
"Most kids love horses," said Farm Director Judy Broom. "So I was hoping that with the attraction of horses and farm animals that people would be a little more eager to come out and donate."
Children lined up for a chance at a free ride.
"I love riding horses," said Austin's daughter Trinity Hansford. "I was really excited when we got here. I just really wanted to get a ticket and hurry up and ride all the horses I can."
Lori Austin thinks events like this help children learn how to give.
"Charity doesn't have to be boring. It doesn't have to be just sitting there, you know, begging for donations or whatever, in the front of a store. You can actually get out and do more interesting things like horse back riding," she said.
Broom agreed. Young stable members helped organize the event, and Broom believes it was a learning experience for them.
"These kids are young. They've got a lot of growing to do. I'm going to teach them to be good citizens, and this is part of it," Broom said.
The donations are still piling in.
"We've had people just driving up, donating several boxes of food, and those people have in turn told me that they have somebody else wanting to donate," Broom said.
It's proof that even in hard times, South Mississippians still have heart.