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Charity plans free ‘Dinner on the Grounds’

An organization founded to honor a Bogue Chitto man who died of colon cancer in 2004 is hosting a free Sunday Supper this weekend in Brookhaven with bluegrass, family games and a Southern spread that can rival dinner at grandma’s house.

The inaugural Sunday Supper will be under a tent set up at Hall & Company at 120 West Monticello Street from 1 to 5 p.m. It’s free to attend, but organizers are asking for registration to make sure the bowls and platters are full and there’s plenty of Southern favorites to go around. Visit www.eventbrite.com and search for Daniel’s Grace in Brookhaven to reserve free tickets.

Dogwood Cross, a bluegrass gospel group, will provide the entertainment and there are plenty of family-friendly games planned to keep the children busy.

Daniel’s Grace is named for Daniel Burns, a 1990 graduate of Bogue Chitto Attendance Center, who died in 2005. The organization was founded by his friend and ex-wife Jodi Moore Newland to provide financial assistance for the daily needs of families of those living with cancer. Not realizing those needs before he was too sick to be able to do anything about it to help others was one of his greatest regrets, said Daniel’s Grace spokeswoman Sue McKechnie.

“Daniel said, ‘I have spent my life living it for me and I didn’t realize that there were people around me who needed my help — even the elderly lady down the street who needed help taking in groceries. Now that I realize, I am not able,’” McKechnie said.

Today, Daniel’s Grace helps families with financial needs like rent, mortgage, car payments, utilities and insurance premiums. The Daniel’s Grace scholarship program was also created to help those students who have been directly affected by cancer.   

To date, Daniel’s Grace has raised well over $500,000 and has funded hundreds of families by way of financial assistance, McKechnie said.

Newland, who is remarried and lives in Virginia, also created the organization to honor her son’s father. Jonathan Burns is 28 — the same age as his father when he was diagnosed with colon cancer — and is raising his family in Bogue Chitto. Newland’s parents and much of her family still lives in Bogue Chitto and Lincoln County, she said.

“Because I’m from the South, dinner on the grounds is one of my favorite Southern traditions,” Newland said. “So I thought, what better way to bring two things that I love most together to create the opportunity for people to learn about Daniel’s Grace and to use it as a fundraising opportunity.”

Newland plans to share the mission and her vision for Daniel’s Grace at the event.

Moore and family are longtime customers of Hall & Company and owner Matt Hall got to know Newland through events she’s planned. The mission of the organization touched his heart and he offered his business as a location for the Sunday Supper.

“Everyone knows someone (with cancer) or either has been affected by cancer and that it comes with many other issues than just medical,” she said. “Jodi and Jonathan have created this great mission in Daniel’s Grace to honor Jonathan’s dad and to help those people with financial support through a difficult time. Helping others is what we in the South are known for most and they are epitomizing it through this organization.”

Daniel’s Grace will also introduce the Little Red Mailbox of Hope at the event. An actual red mailbox, it will serve as a vessel of hope in Brookhaven that allows visitors to write messages of encouragement and share stories with others who are affected by cancer. Hall & Company is the temporary home for the mailbox while Newland negotiates with the city on a good permanent location for it, McKechnie said.

While raising awareness of the organization is important, raising funds to finance its mission is vital. One way to do that is through donations, which will be accepted at the Sunday Supper. Daniel’s Grace is also planning its second annual golf tournament. The 3-Man Scramble at Wolf Hollow Golf Course in Wesson was set for this weekend but has been postponed until October.