NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) -- Jodi Parks a self proclaimed girlie-girl has been competing in pageants now for several years.
"I've been in pageants...well I did one when I was younger like when I was five but I started pageant pageants when I was seven," said Jodi.
Now with three years of experience stashed under her sash, Jodi explained what makes the Miss Heart of the USA Pageant system so different from all the others, and it's not the size of the crown.
"This is about community work and it's not about the sash or the money or the trophy. It's about community work and working really hard," said Jodi.
This pageant is not all about the glitz and the glam, though there is a little glam. The main focus, according to Kaye Parks, is to teach young ladies the importance of giving to those in the community.
"For starters, our National Queen last year raised over 400 thousand items. Jodi herself who is the reigning state queen, raised over 10 thousand items," said Ms. Parks.
Locally, Jodi helps and volunteers at Union County Good Samaritan. Ms. Wanda Roberts another volunteer at the food pantry, spoke about what it means to have Jodi and other young people devote so much of their time, through food drives and other fund raisers.
"You know, when she takes an order to the door for a client, those smiles just reach across because when people see someone that young... because what has started in her will last a lifetime," said Ms. Roberts.
Ms. Parks notes all of the girls involved are making a lasting impact on their community and learning values they'll keep for a lifetime.
"They are giving back to their communities at a young age and at this time, especially in our society you don't hear a lot about young people doing anything. And the fact that they are out there they are working, waiting tables and not keeping any of it for themselves they are giving it to the homeless," said Parks.