Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Doing Good in a BIG Way: Operation BBQ Relief

Once in a while you trip over something that's just leads you down a path with each new detail revealing a greater treasure. Once in a while you come across something that makes you pause, like taking in a beautiful vista but when this happens with people it seems to me that most folks just keep on going, they don't stop and pause to admire the beauty of the human spirit. 

So as the lone pescatarian at the Troy Pig Out, I went on a little adventure deciding to chat up the some of the pitmasters to see if I could find out what this world of competition BBQ was all about. Not being shy and a total chatty Kathy, I wandered into the somewhat quiet area where they were camped out with their enormous smokers. This is where I met Sean Keever from Big Guns BBQ who quite simply is an awesome guy. We chatted for a bit and then he sent me over to visit Shaune & Bill Gillespie and Alan Burke at Smokin Hoggz BBQ, who had actually won the Jack Daniels BBQ competition.Well the real reason he sent me, in the interest of full disclosure, is that they had squirreled away in their freezer a peach infused bourbon....umm yeah, side note that stuff was ridiculous amazing, throw that in an Arnold Palmer and have a happy day! But I digress...

A big glass of peach bourbon in a 90 degree trailer, with a couple of really nice people lead to the discovery of this organization that just speaks to my heart, the heart of this blog and I truly hope to yours as well. I keep talking about chefs that are doing good for the community and why it makes such sense. Whether you're a chef or a home cook, when you cook for people you're sharing your heart and giving of your spirit. To me it's one of the most generous of professions because you're always just trying to make people feel good. 

Alan Burke, in the course of conversation, mentions to me Operation BBQ Relief. He tells me how they have this organization that helps people affected by natural disasters and how it's a natural fit because they don't need electricity to BBQ, just charcoal or wood. He looks at me with his heart on his sleeve and tells me that they just want to give a nice hot meal, something that gives them a little bit of home, to people that have just lost everything they have to  give them a little bit of comfort. Alan tells me that they are ready to mobilize at a moment's notice, that these folks that are linemen, state workers, just regular people just drop everything to take time off, gather supplies and go. When they get there they set up, they cook and they provide meals to anyone who needs it. 

When I heard this I thought it was great, inspiring, selfless; but then I did my research and my heart stopped. The humility in which this was presented to me can not be underscored enough. These people fed 120, 000 people in less than 2 weeks in Joplin after the tornado. They have deployed from all over the country in response to 12 natural disasters since May 2011. Sitting with a friend who was reciepient of their generosity after Hurricane Sandy, he tells me how remarkable they were, ho selfless, how kind. 

Doesn't it make you stop and think of the impact of a few people with big hearts, how they can offer comfort to hundreds of thousands of people. So I don't about you all, but I'm not going to keep walking. I'm not going to say oh that's nice and keep on going. I'm going to lend my support in the best way I can, by spreading the word. Please click on the links below to donate to Operation BBQ Relief. 

From the Operation BBQ Relief Website:
"During 2012, Operation BBQ Relief cooked almost 182,000 meals in 11 states and spent 52 days cooking. Since the first disaster that we cooked for in Joplin, MO, Operation BBQ Relief volunteers have served 470,900 meals to victims and first responders."

They have a wish list on Amazon: CLICK HERE

Video from Joplin:

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