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JAs cook ’em — you peel, eat ’em

The Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven moves like a well-oiled machine.

They worked from sunup to sundown at the Lincoln Civic Center Wednesday, picking out the better of the 2.5 tons of boiled shrimp and filling hundreds of 10-pound bags. Today, they’ll load 5,000 takeout plates to hand them out to ticket-holders during a four-hour window.

It’s an art they’ve perfected over 31 years.

The Junior Auxiliary’s 31st annual Peel ’Em and Eat ’Em Shrimp Dinner is today from 3-7 p.m. and plates are pickup-only at the Lincoln Civic Center. Tickets are $15. Each plate gets a pound of boiled shrimp prepared by K&B Seafood, baked potato salad, spicy corn on the cob and crackers with cocktail sauce. K&B donates their services to cook the shrimp for the Junior Auxiliary. That’s done on-site with their big rig cookers and two pots large enough to hold 400 pounds of seafood in each.

Shrimp chairwoman Sheila Sartin said most of the 5,000 tickets have been either sold or donated, but a few will be available today at the door.

“If you don’t have a ticket, you could get a plate, but you better come early,” Sartin said.

The Sweet Shoppe will have expanded offerings for customers picking up shrimp dinners.

“We sold out so early last year,” she said.

The JA serves home-baked goods from full-size cakes to individual servings for sale by cash or check only. Many are made from treasured JA recipes, like the Mississippi mud cake which has been a staple of the Sweet Shoppe for more than three decades. Each of the 50 members is responsible for an item and members of the Crown Club — JA’s youth group — also add to the selection.

All of the hard work was done Wednesday.

“So when we walk in, all we have to do is start plating,” she said.

Since 1954, Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven has been dedicated to helping the children of Lincoln County. From literacy initiatives to financial support and everything in between, the women of JA strive to help support future generations.

The money raised from the dinner is used to fund JA projects such as Wish Tree, Smile Games for special needs students, Reality World for ninth-graders, Crown Club, community assistance and scholarships.