top of page


Petal Children's Task Force

314 S. George Street Petal, MS  39465


The Petal Children’s Task Force was formed in December of 1989 by Petal residents and friends Demaris Lee and Jessie Rowell. The event that set in motion what would eventually become the task force was a single needy family. The two women purchased food and Christmas presents for the family with money from their own pockets. While they didn’t advertise what they were doing, the women said requests for help continued to come in. While visiting these families to bring food and other necessities, the women often saw various sad situations. Children in deplorable living conditions, sometimes with no bed to sleep on, and houses with only a wood fire for heat in the winter are just a couple of examples. For almost a year, Demaris and Jessie tried to meet the needs of local families on their own, but in 1990 they received their first donation, $500 from the Chamber of Commerce. This was soon followed by several other donations from Petal businesses.

The women began speaking with local clubs and organizations, and soon the task force grew into a full-time organization. From a meager pantry at a local church, to space provided at the Center for Families and Children in Petal, the task force continued to grow. Eventually, a board of directors was organized, and the Task Force gained much support from the Petal community.

Even as the Task Force grew, its mission remained the same, to provide for the children of Petal and act as their advocate when no one else could.

Today our work continues. Through the generosity of Asbury Methodist Church, we now have our own space at the Lighthouse Mission site in Petal. And with this most recent blessing, we have been able to become a true Emergency Food Bank for all of the people in Petal. We now provide food assistance to anyone in need in the Petal area, including those who do not have children in the Petal School District.

Ms. Jessie Rowell passed away in early 2010, but we know she would be very proud of how far we’ve come, and we continue to serve the people of Petal to the glory of God and in honor of Jessie and the work that she and Demaris began.

bottom of page