The welcoming smell of barbecue pulled pork wafted from the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office just in time for lunch.
The prepared lunch, which resulted in more than 35 orders and even more walk-in meals, was held March 29 as a fundraiser for two new programs the office is working to launch.
The Moniteau County Law Enforcement Explorer Program and Shop With a Cop may not be up and running yet, but that isn't stopping the office's employees from spreading the word and raising funds.
Detective Tyler Zumwalt said the two programs will "invite youth to join and get a sense of what law enforcement does."
"It's really a hybrid career fair," Zumwalt said. "We'll have law enforcement from the sheriff's office, crime scene investigation, attorneys and a photographer here to set up mock scenes for the youth to get a better sense of what we do here."
The programs will be 100 percent funded by donations, Zumwalt said. Not one penny of taxpayer dollars will be spent to run the lessons, he said.
"There really isn't a lot for youth to do in Moniteau County," he said. "So we just want to give them a few more options to have available."
Other counties have done Shop with a Cop for the Christmas holiday season, the likes of which Moniteau County has not yet seen. But 2019 will be different, Zumwalt said.
"Shop with a Cop is when we take kids out shopping for themselves and their families," he said.
Zumwalt said he had participated in the program in another county during a holiday season.
"We played carols on the loudspeakers when we drove the kids to a store," he said. "I remember one kid I did this with picked out one toy for himself, but he kept going and picked out a few more for his siblings."
The season of giving can be hard for some families, but this is what the sheriff's office would like to fix.
"We just want to give kids an opportunity to have a Christmas for the year," Zumwalt said. "It makes a difference for the kids."
As far as the older youth, the explorer program will also give them an opportunity to see what career options they have in their futures.
"If there are kids who aren't going down the right path and they see that they can be a cop or a lawyer, that's a win for me," Zumwalt said. "They can come to a session and say, 'Oh hey, that's what a cop does.'
"We obviously can't take them on runs, but we'll make mock scenes for them to see how we conduct traffic stops and other things," he said. "It's to give them a love of greater learning."