LUCEDALE, Miss. (WKRG) — A George County nonprofit is stepping up to keep the county’s children fed this summer as they continue to expand their reach.

The Immaculate Heart Community Development Corporation started in 1994 providing Thanksgiving dinner to 190 people. After Hurricane Katrina hit the coast, they helped 1,500 families receive emergency housing and FEMA assistance.

After losing her son to a drug overdose, executive director Glenda Perryman found new purpose for the group.

“God is the one that is directing our path,” said Perryman. “It was inspired by my son’s death because I couldn’t stay there and die with him. The Lord told me there’s other children that need help in our village, all of George County.”

The summer feeding program, supported by Feeding the Gulf Coast, is able to feed 65 children currently, but the limit could increase with greater demand. They will serve up until school resumes in George Co. but plan to continue into the fall with an after-school program.

While George Co. Schools fed all students during previous summers, the district said they didn’t have the resources to continue this year.

“We didn’t have enough employees that could deliver all our meals and feed all the public,” said Alisa Jordan, child nutrition director. The district fed an average of 330 summer school students daily through June 30. All students will receive a free lunch during the upcoming school year.

Immaculate Heart is also planning a Back to School Bash to provide backpacks, school supplies and help with school uniforms.

Other arms of the organization are working to reach the county’s elderly with meals and activities and provide unhoused people with temporary shelter. They are also working to develop a community space with classrooms, a basketball court, computer lab and kitchen and dining area.

Neither are new enterprises. They served senior meals from the Benndale Volunteer Fire Department for 10 years and built six new homes after Hurricane Katrina. They’re supported entirely by grants and donations and led by a mostly volunteer board.

A food pantry currently operates from Morning Star on the last Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. with household supplies also available with donations from Walmart.

“We want to touch everyone’s lives- not just the little ones, not just the elderly, but everyone in between,” said board member Carol Coleman.

The nonprofit feeds all children grades Kindergarten through 12th grade, Monday through Wednesday at Morning Star Baptist Church at 165 Cedar St. in Lucedale. Breakfast, lunch and a snack are served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The staff and volunteers host activities for the children throughout the day.

Anyone in need of assistance or interested in supporting the community development corporation can call 601-900-7546 or email immaculateheartcdc@gmail.com.