Hushpuppies, pulled pork stop crime

27 Mar 2009 | Cpl. Bryce C.K. Muhlenberg

“Anytime you got rain, people don’t like to come out,” said Bob Bright, over the sound of droplets impacting white plastic tarps covering steaming plates of pulled pork.  “We have been very successful today, even with the rain.  I think it’s because this community is a very proactive circle, trying to keep crime down.” 

 Bright is the vice chairman for the Crime Stoppers program, which held its ninth annual Crime Stoppers barbecue fundraiser in the Jacksonville Mall parking lot, March 27.

 The program allows people to report crimes anonymously with the chance to receive up to a $2,500 reward for reporting crimes. 

 “The point is to provide a tool for law enforcement to receive tips for solving crimes,” said Bright, who is retired from Camp Lejeune’s Fire Department.  “This fundraiser helps us gather money for the rewards people get when they provide solid tips.  It’s our main source of income, so we usually hold this barbeque on the last Thursday of March.”

    In traditional Southern style, the event offered the sale of pulled pork sandwiches, “slaw” and hushpuppies by preorder and delivery, or by simply picking up the dinners in the mall parking lot.

 Program funding comes from the Jacksonville and Onslow County Communities and is a very popular event, said Bright, referencing the sale of between 18-1,900 dinners including predelivery orders.

 “We are doing really good today compared to years past – we’ve sold out,” said Bright, with a chuckle  “Sometimes people come up here and buy 50 plates at a time, but our record is around 250 at one time.”

 Representatives from Camp Johnson’s Motor Transportation Maintenance school and the Jacksonville Police Department volunteered to roll up their sleeves and help cook at the event.

 “Our investigative division handles Crime Stoppers,” said Rick Postlethwaite, the community officer for Jacksonville Police Department.  “This program almost always works and I encourage people to come and support, like these Marines here.”

 It was refreshing to see the Marines, America’s own youth, come out to support the event, said Postlethwaite. 

 Pvt. Benjamin Frost, a driver’s mechanic student, was one of these Marines. 

 “I just want to make this place better for everyone and give back to the community,” said Frost.  “This is a good thing because the crime around here needs to be stopped and I am here to do it.  Kids don’t need to be brought up in this environment.”

 The event had made approximately $7,000 and still cars lined the curb to grab the last dinners available, even as the event was closing and Marines began to break down the tents and cooking equipment. 

 “You know, we have a really great law enforcement community among Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville and Onslow County,” said Bright.  “But even better, we have concerned citizens and that is what makes us so strong.” 

 If you would like to participate in the Crime Stoppers program, call the 24 hour hotline at 910-938-3273.