Church uses money from fundraiser to keep kids off the street

Published 7:03 pm Saturday, August 18, 2018

The sky was overcast and the threat of rain was evident, but the only clouds that counted were the ones carrying the aroma of ribs, chicken and hot dogs cooking on the grills in the parking lot of the Warren County Food Stamp office.

Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church’s third annual barbeque cook-off fundraiser for the church youth department was underway Saturday, with several grills up and cooking, a DJ playing music and a bouncy house for the children in the neighborhood.

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“We don’t have as many cooks this year,” organizer Joshua Dupre said. “A lot of people put their money up (to participate) but they cancelled out because of the rain and told us to keep the money (entry fee), so we decided to turn this year’s event into a cookout.

“This is the lowest turnout we’ve had.”

But the cooks who turned out were more concerned about meat on the grill than the weather.

Under a Jackson State University tent, Mike Gates was cooking ribs, chicken and sausage on his 26-year-old grill.

“I won the championship the first year,” Gates, a church member, said, “And a I plan to get it back this year. I started at 7 this morning.”

Starting early

Jesse Trotter, the church’s youth department director, said he started cooking his first batch of ribs Friday night.

“I started cooking at 11 last night, and came back at 5:30 this morning and started the second batch; I’ve had two hours of sleep,” he said. Trotter was using a large multiple section grill with the name “J & S Grilling” on the side.

“The S is for my wife, Sain,” he said.

He opened one side of the grill. “I cooked 16 spare ribs in there,” he said.

Dupre said the money raised from the cook-off goes to benefit the church’s youth programs, not just for the children of church members, but also for children in the neighborhood.

“We use the money to buy supplies for the youth department, we have gospel extravaganzas for the kids, we take kids on trips to see things they normally would not get to see, and all that takes money,” he said. “We hold fundraisers because we don’t want the parents to have to pay for things.”

The goal, Dupre and Trotter said, is to provide programs to get the children occupied in activities that pulls them away from disruptive behavior.

“You want to try and get them early while they’re still young, so you can teach them,” Gates said.

“We give them things to do that will keep them off the street and away from trouble,” Dupre said. “We want to do things that are productive instead of destructive.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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