North Charleston restaurant battles holiday hunger

North Charleston, SC (WCSC) -- As thousands of residents throughout the greater Charleston area awoke to a sunny spring morning Sunday, the staff of Market Street Saloon in North Charleston was already hard at work; eight hours in to a catering assignment that would last less than one hour, but with a sentiment that just may endure a lifetime.

"We've all had struggles in our lives," said Sam Mustafa, manager.  "That said, [the staff] wanted to do something for the community on [Easter]."

That something would turn out to be a massive feast; pulled pork, country ham, mashed potatoes, and sweet tea made fresh literally overnight and presented on a buffet table more than 10 yards long.

While the saloon would be open Easter Sunday, this meal was special because it was going to those who would otherwise go without; 47 members of the Carolina Youth Development Center -- C.Y.D.C.  The C.Y.D.C. provides shelter for area children -- adolescent to teen-aged -- who are often victims of abuse in their own homes and are now seeking stability through state funded protective services.

"It's hard out there for [C.Y.D.C.] kids," said Mustafa.  "[Staff of the saloon] did some research and decided that even though they could be at home with their families on Easter, helping [C.Y.D.C. kids] would be better fit."

Just as the final trays were pulled from the ovens, the last of the place mats set, and about one dozen servers armed themselves with serving spoons, a discrete white bus pulled in to the saloon parking lot: they had arrived.

"It was a blast to see the set-up," said Kendra Wilson, group counselor.  "We at [C.Y.D.C.] really depend on community support to help the kids... it's nice to see a group so dedicated to helping."

For more than 45 minutes, a constant stream of lines kept staff busy refilling plates, fulfilling requests for seconds, and most importantly creating smiles; for perhaps the first time this year, if not in their young lives, the members of C.Y.D.C. experienced a taste of a family holding, if even not with their own.

"[The lunch] is so simple, but it really does wonders!" said Wilson.  "[The kids] are going to walk away today knowing that someone out there in the community really does care about them."

"It's good pay-back," said Mustafa.  "It's nice."

As the last tables were cleared by staff and now full C.Y.D.C. members boarded the bus to head out, it became clear that Easter 2010 was a success.

"Days like today really do make a difference," Wilson said.  "Hopefully this will inspire the kids to want to help others if given the chance."