HANCOCK COUNTY — Long before members of the 40/8 started to arrive, a large 240-pound pig spent hours on a spit, smoking for more than half a day so it would be ready to serve in time for the military service organization’s inaugural hog roast last weekend.

The organization’s July 18 event in rural Hancock County helped members of the 40/8 raise funds for scholarships, which it gives to local students looking to pursue a degree in nursing.

Walter Baran, 40/8 member, said the hog was cooked the night before the event so everything would be ready to serve the next day. He added it was his idea to play host to a hog roast in Hancock County and he had heard good things from those who stopped by to eat.

“Lots of people love to eat hog,” Baran said. “I’m just glad everyone out here is having a good time.”

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Baran said the large pig was purchased locally, and he hoped it would help serve more than 100 people, which would in turn help raise funds for the group’s scholarship programs.

Tony Cross, leader of the 40/8, said the group has a long history supporting nursing. The group established a nurses training program in 1955 and since then has given about $31 million to more than 52,000 students obtaining nurses training nationwide.

“We stand firm behind those strong beliefs,” Cross said. “Nurses make a difference.”

He said the local chapter of the 40/8 gives two or three scholarships a year to area students. The money allows those students to purchase books or pay for classes.

Cross said the group tries to gather enough funds to give $1,000 scholarships, and local students get priority.

“We truly are dedicated to helping future nurses,” Cross said.

Cross added the group raised around $550 at the “really successful” hog roast and the group plans to have another around the same time next year.

Catherine Baran, who will be a sophomore at Indiana University’s Indianapolis campus, is just one of the many students who have benefited from the 40/8 scholarship program.

She said she’s receiving $1,000 a year from the group, as part of a three-year scholarship, and the funds help her remain as debt-free as possible while studying.

“I’m so grateful for this scholarship,” she said. “It’s beyond helpful.”

Catherine Baran, 19, of Greenfield, said she was happy to attend the hog roast with her family and show support for the group who has helped her with her studies.

“That’s a huge amount of money for some people and it’s really helped offset costs for me,” she said. “Because of this scholarship I’ll be in less debt when I leave school. That means the world to me.”

About the group

The 40/8 was founded in 1920, and has around 2,800 members in Indiana. The Hancock County chapter of the organization has close to 80 members.