Charity still helping 11 years after Joplin tornado

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A barbecue sandwich and some comfort food.

That’s all the members and volunteers of Operation BBQ Relief hope to offer survivors of a natural disaster.

“I mean, I’ll never forget the first person who thanked me for a pulled pork sandwich. And that’s when I realized, I mean, she really said it, like, it’s not about the food, it’s about the fact that you you’re here for us,” said Stand Hays, co-founder and CEO of Operation BBQ Relief.

As the community of Joplin, Missouri looks back on the disaster that happened 11 years ago, Stone Hays also recalls a phone call he made to barbecue-loving friends a while ago. 11 years helping Joplin, forming Operation BBQ Relief.

“That phone call turned into a gathering of a bunch of contestants, BBQ guys, enthusiasts, judges, you know, people who had a heart to give to go to Joplin and start cooking,” said Hays said.

They served their favorite comfort food to those who needed a little relief.

“The idea was that we would be there for four or five days, serve four or 5,000 meals, come home knowing that we had made a difference and it ended up being 11 days and 120,000 meals from a parking lot .

Since the Joplin Tornado disaster, the organization has served more than 9.6 million meals to disaster victims and volunteers.

This evening, over a meal, the organization’s leaders met with its sponsors who have supported them over the years as they pursue its mission of service to others.

“It was super compelling. So I’m a little torn when I think about the impact it had after seeing the devastation we had,” said Chef Michael Ollier of Certified Angus Beef.

Hays said he hopes to continue helping communities affected by natural disasters for years to come, one barbecue sandwich at a time.

“I tell everyone, whether it’s a meal or you know, 100,000 meals, that’s really the only meal that matters, served 100,000 times, a million times, 9.6 million times. This is the impact we continue to have and how it multiplies,” Hays said.

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