When tragedy steals the most basic of needs like food and shelter from Americans, there are people who run toward mayhem to begin nourishing the hungry and the traumatized. While we are most familiar with the Red Cross and the National Guard, there are other lesser-known groups that step in to work alongside the larger agencies. One such group is Operation BBQ Relief. They provide a hot meal and a warm hug to those most in need.
The day the mile-wide tornado unleashed its wrath on Moore, Okla., Operation BBQ Relief packed up and headed out. Within minutes of telling their Facebook followers about their plans, people responded to the call for volunteers. People with food trucks, concession vans and big rigs immediately rallied and headed to Moore.
Others, like the Oklahoma Gaming Association, pledged generously to pay for supplies and still others posted prayers and words of support. “Saying a prayer for you all. You're driving into so much sadness. Praying for strength and comfort for the volunteers as u become a pillar for the community,” said one Facebook follower.
When there is nothing left in a disaster area, it’s groups like these that are nimble enough to jump in right away to provide relief. Operation BBQ relief was founded by Missourians in May 2011, by Stan Hays, Jeff Stith and Will Cleaver (all BBQ restaurant owners), in response to the Joplin MO tornado, which killed 140 people, injured another 1,000, and left tens of thousands without homes.
Since then Operation BBQ Relief has dished up hundreds of thousands of meals to Red Cross workers (pictured), firefighters, police and local victims in Joplin MO; Reading, Kansas; Harrisburg Penn; Jefferson County, Ala; Harveyville, Kansas; Harrisburg Ill, and Marysville, Ind.
If you would like to help, Operation BBQ, a registered 501(c)3, welcomes your contributions and support.
Mail donations to:
Operation BBQ Relief
1502 A North 7 Hwy
Pleasant Hill, MO 64080