Raines Rushin has been a long time supporter of OBR. In August, he participated in his first deployment in Hammond, LA after Northwest Louisiana was hit by devastating floods.
The following is his perspective on the record-breaking deployment.
On August 15, 2016 at a small church complex in Hammond, Louisiana the first Operation BBQ Relief truck rolled into the parking lot. Over the next two weeks, a legion of volunteers, truckloads of supplies and an overwhelming spirit of cooperation and service turned a former church school into a barbecue machine.
Booming voices of leadership and growling trucks filled the air of the parking lot over the next two weeks. Solemn prayers and humble nods started every morning. Sweat and smiles mingled with jokes and boasts as more than two centuries of professional barbecue experience and expertise came together to prepare slow-cooked pork, vegetables, bread and laying a cooks hand to every single parcel flowing from generous donations and support.
Truck after truck of supplies poured in non-stop. The flow of fresh meats and other foodstuffs was so incredible, a portion of the volunteer staff had to be devoted to organizing and staging the incoming supply.
On Saturday, August 20th, that support allowed OBR to plate approximately 33,000 meals in a single day. The needs of locals and others from across the nation lending a hand filled every hour for the Hammond volunteers and helped OBR reach its ONE MILLION MEAL milestone the following week. In Hammond alone, over 313,000 meals went across the assembly tables in that church gymnasium.
A staggering 133,500 pounds of pork made its way through the cookers under the watchful eyes of pitmasters from all over the South. A steamer plowed through 12,500 number ten cans of vegetables. Pyramids of sliced bread and fresh fruit filled the staging areas. The incredible donations kept coming until the need was met.
From professional pitmaster to starting halfback to the children of people on the cook line, the volunteer force pushed through every day on a mission to meet the need with a plate of hot barbecue, a cold bottle of water or a hug and a smile. Nearly 550 volunteers showed up one by one – and all left part of a family. We may have been people willing to help, willing to give anything and everything we could – individuals, couples, parents. We are OBR.