The Community Center of Hope is doing a lot of good it the community -- but needs more money to do it even better.

That was the message at the center's annual meeting Thursday, which drew about 30 people to Hope Moravian Church for barbecue, potato salad, sweet tea and some proud discussion about the facility's present and future.

Jeff Yarnell, president of the center's board of directors, thanked center staff, facilitators and board members for making that success possible. And he encouraged others who have never served before to step forward.

Hope has a lot going for it, after all.

The childcare portion of the center enrolled 19 preschoolers, and eight infants and toddlers in 2017, Community Center Director Chelsea Warriner said. She said it also enrolled 30 children in its summer camp.

As of the day of the annual meeting, the center had 14 children in prekindergarten with 10 openings, 20 preschoolers with no openings and seven infants with one opening.

The possibility of beginning to accept state vouchers was expected to drive up the preschool numbers even more.

Yarnell also talked about the center's annual backyard barbecue, which earned about $9,000 in 2017 between sponsors and vendors.

He said the event was so popular last summer that the 28 teams could barely fit around the town square. That speaks volumes of the event's quality, he said, given that competitors could win a lot more prize money somewhere else.

One competitor last year came all the way from California, he said, and donated his $50 winnings back to the Community Center.

The next backyard barbecue will be June 8-9.

Yarnell said the Community Center and the Hartsville Fire Department have been talking about bringing in another fun event, specifically a carnival. He said the discussion is in its infant stage but seems to be going well.

"I know they're well received and fun for kids," he said. "And it's a money maker."

Yarnell also spoke briefly about the effort to save the old Hope gymnasium, which has fallen into disrepair near the town square.

As of last month, the effort had raised only $450 toward a new gym room, indicating a serious lack of financial support.

The old Hope gym was built in the midst of the Great Depression as part of the old Hope Town School and is owned today by the Community Center. Over the years it has been used as the home of the Hauser Jets and the Hope Red Devils, and for pickup basketball games and donkey basketball fundraisers.