‘Shrimp Day’ funds a lot of good works

Published 10:14pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

Brookhaven may be 150 miles from the Gulf Coast’s fishing boats, but the number of folks feasting on shrimp in town Thursday belied that fact.

The Brookhaven Junior Auxiliary served up 4,800 pounds of the tasty shellfish for their annual Peel ‘Em and Eat ‘Em Shrimp Dinner fundraiser. As the JA’s only fundraising project each year, the group goes all out to make the event a special one.

Thirty-seven active JA members and eight JA life members worked the fundraiser, which also included a Sweet Shoppe bake sale featuring more than 200 homemade cakes and goodies. Also helping were the JA’s Crown Club girls’ group, Brookhaven Academy junior high cheerleaders and community supporters.

“The Sweet Shoppe helps with profits and adds that hometown, home-cooked tradition to the event,” said Valarie Oglesby of the JA.

After expenses are paid, proceeds from the Shrimp Dinner go toward JA’s service projects, which revolve around helping local children.

The biggest cost factor is the shrimp themselves, of course. “The expenses for the shrimp cook alone this year were $38,000,” Oglesby said. “Shrimp prices really hit our organization hard. Fundraising profits for our mission projects were drastically affected.”

Oglesby offered special thanks to the Brookhaven Police and Brookhaven Fire Departments, to K&B Seafood that cooked the shrimp and to the multitude of sponsors and patrons who contributed to the project.

The popularity of the shrimp dinners is evident each year by the multitude of cars turning in at the Brookhaven Recreation Department on Highway 51 North each year to pick up supper and dessert each October on “Shrimp Day.” The throngs of traffic were ably directed by our local police, and the JA members and their helpers have the routine of getting shoppers in and out down to a science.

While the high-profile fundraiser gets a lot of attention each year, the things the JA does with the funding are decidedly less well known but are the real reason for all the hard work each October.

Each year, some 10,000 people are touched in Lincoln County through JA’s community service projects, which include:

• A “One to One” mentoring program in which JA members are each paired with a child identified through working with counselors and teachers in local schools.

• EARS, the JA’s Excellence and Assistance in Reading Service program, in which JA members read to local school children who need extra assistance.

• A Life Choices committee, which utilizes speakers and programs to help local children make better decisions in a variety of life areas.

• A Christmas Angel Tree project that goes toward ensuring no local children wake up on Christmas morning without a gift.

• Emergency clothes closets at area schools.

• Scholarships for local students.

“Without community support we can’t make all of this happen,” Oglesby said in a recent interview with the newspaper.

Oglesby said Friday night the final amount of funds raised is still being tabulated. But, judging from the number of cars flowing through the Rec Department driveways this past Thursday, the support in Brookhaven for the fundraiser is obviously there.

The Brookhaven JA deserves a hearty thank you for putting on this delicious fundraising event each year. And an even bigger thank you is needed for all the work JA does helping our children each year.

Keep up the good works, JA!