Volunteers deliver drive-through deep-pit barbecue plates to cars on Sunday, Sept. 26, during the return of the annual Imperial County Sheriff’s Office volunteer unit fundraiser. Some $25,000 was estimated to have been raised at the event, which was held at the Imperial Valley Fairgrounds’ Casa de Mañana building in Imperial. | CATHI PHILLIPS LARIOS PHOTO
IMPERIAL — More than 3,000 plates of food. About 4,000 pounds of pit-smoked barbecue. Six volunteer organizations. And $25,000.
Those were the delicious numbers behind last weekend’s annual Imperial County Sheriff’s Office volunteer organization fundraiser in which that much meat, sold in that many plates, earned that much money, to fund that many units.
Unlike its counterparts in large metropolitan counties, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office does not have a dedicated budget to support all of its volunteer organizations’ expenses.
Instead, the agency has for the past 25-plus years relied on an annual fundraiser where thousands of plates of food are sold to benefit its volunteer organizations.
This year, the sale of about 4,000 pounds of barbecue generated an estimated $25,000 for is volunteer organizations that include its Reserve Unit, Aero Squadron, De Anza Rescue Unit, Mounted Posse, Sheriff’s Athletic League and Explorers.
“For us, they are very valuable,” Undersheriff Fred Miramontes said.
The fundraiser was cancelled in 2020 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but returned on Sunday, Sept. 26, as a five-hour drive-through event at the Imperial Valley Fairgrounds’ Casa de Mañana building.
Each volunteer organization was assigned a number of tickets to sale for the barbecue and from which they receive the proceeds. The annual fundraiser was started during the tenure of former Sheriff Oren Fox, who served from July 1973 to December 1974, and again, from January 1979 to January 1999.
The funds generated have at times gone toward tires for off-road vehicles, radios, as well as uniforms and shirts, Miramontes said.
Sheriff’s Office personnel prepared, packaged, and distributed the food. Local beef suppliers provided the meat, while other local businesses donated beverages and fresh produce for the salads, Miramontes said.