In 2011, the city of Joplin MO was hit by an EF 5 tornado that would rank among the worst tornadoes in history with almost 200 fatalities and causing $2.8 billion in damages.
When Stan Hays, a resident of Pleasant Hill MO, saw the devastation, he knew he wanted to help. Although he works as an insurance agent, Stan is also a competition bbq pitmaster. Stan called fellow barbecuer, Jeff Stith about an idea to go to Joplin and cook. Stith agreed and went about getting donations from Sam’s Club, calling other barbecue friends and set up a Facebook page about the plan called Operation BBQ Relief.
Barbecue is big in Stan’s family. He went to his first barbecue competition in Lee’s Summit with the encouragement of his wife, Amy. They now have a team called “County Line Smokers” which includes their two children. Nathan, Stan’s teenage son, has since won the Food Network’s Kid Chef Nation and was the youngest person to ever win a Steak Cookoff Association competition.
Stan, Jeff Stith (Big Creek BBQ) and Will Cleaver (Sticks N Chicks BBQ), served over 120,000 barbecue meals in eleven days. They had help from 44 competition barbecue teams and and many volunteers. They cooked in a central area and delivered meals out to families and the many who had come to help with clean up and repair.
This is the heart of barbecue, it’s a warm meal that can provide comfort in times of need. It’s the friendly atmosphere and caring nature of the people manning the pits that can help mend souls. In this time of need, Stan found his true calling. And before he knew it, Hurricane Irene came and another deployment of Operation BBQ Relief was necessary.
Since 2011, Operation BBQ Relief (OBR) has served over 1.7 million meals in 24 states and 44 communities.
Operation BBQ Relief is a non profit organization. One of the ways the BBQ community supports the effort of OBR is through community fundraising events. The Grill’n and Chill’n in the Catskills Fundraiser in New York was one such event that included: SCA sanctioned steak cook-off, live music, bourbon tasting, jerky making and more. The event ended with a keynote speaker, dinner and live auction with proceeds benefiting Operation BBQ Relief.
Up for bid, among other donations, was a special Yoder Smoker YS640. This smoker featured an American flag image wrapped on a competition cart base. The “Operation BBQ Relief” logo steel nameplate was also included. The smoker was auctioned with a private cooking lesson by Sean Keaver of Big Guns BBQ. It was sold with a winning bid of $5000, all of which went to Operation BBQ Relief.
Yoder Smokers is proud to help support Operation BBQ Relief and encourages all of our Yoder Nation to consider helping support the next deployment.