Smoke rising from East Rockingham Fire Department signalled the return of the annual barbecue fundraiser.
East Rockingham firefighters volunteer to fight fires and firefighter Mike Burns helps the Sandhill Boys cook the barbecue they serve each year for their annual fundraiser. The Sandhill Boys began cooking 3,000 pounds of Boston butts in 26 different cookers on Wednesday and the plates will be sold on Friday, starting at 11 a.m.
The plates, $7 a piece, include barbecue or chicken, baked beans, slaw, hush-puppies and a desert. Orders of five or more plates will be delivered upon request.
In previous years, the fundraiser has brought in as much as $10,000 in one year. Burns said these funds will go towards their annual Christmas and Firemen appreciation party, Toys for Tots, Relay for Life, schools, two $500 scholarships and to help struggling firefighters.
Burns is also a full-time deputy with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. He shared the details of a structure fire the department was called to Wednesday morning. The call to 139 Robinson St. off Mill Road came around 11 a.m. Wednesday. Because the Sandhill Boys had the cooking covered, the firefighters were able to respond.
“Luckily the Sandhill Boys took care of the barbecue while we’re out fighting fires. We are still doing our job,” said Burns. “We can’t put that on hold.”
Jimmy Stricklan has been cooking with the Sandhill Boys for nearly 30 years.
“Most of us worked together,” said Stricklan. “We’re railroad boys.”
“We’re going to have a good time,” said Gene Ross, one of the cooks, about Friday.
The Sandhill Boys Cooking Team is a group of mostly retired men who get together a few times a year to cook together for themselves or for charity events.
According to Burns, no one was hurt in the fire, but the mobile home was destroyed.
“The fire was contained to the living room area, but the smoke damaged the rest of the house,” said Burns. “There was one lady who got checked out by EMS for being a diabetic but I don’t think she went with EMS. She may have gone to stay with relatives.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.