Randy Hartmann first heard about Operation BBQ Relief in 2018 and was immediately intrigued by our mission to provide hot meals and hope to communities in need.
“As a pitmaster and career firefighter/paramedic, I knew this would be a natural fit for me – continuing my life of public service feeding those in need,” Randy said.
Randy first volunteered at several of our “Blue Sky” events that strive to feed communities in need throughout the year, and not only when disaster strikes. He has been volunteering on disaster deployments since September 2021, when he helped provide meals to Hammond, La. after Hurricane Ida. Recently, he wrapped up back-to-back deployments with Operation BBQ Relief feeding people impacted by wildfires in Maui and by Hurricane Idalia in Florida and Georgia.
“After 10 deployments I keep coming back because what we do is serve those who need us at potentially the worst time in their lives. And we do it, not only as a well-oiled machine but also as a family,” Randy said.
Randy has advice for people thinking about volunteering with Operation BBQ Relief.
“First, no experience is necessary. We train you ONLY in the jobs you want to learn and never put you in a position where you’re not comfortable. From chopping meat to placing labels on containers, there’s a place for you with us. If you can’t figure out your purpose, we’ll help you do that as well,” Randy said.
Randy also wants people to know that there is no minimum time commitment to be an Operation BBQ Relief volunteer.
“There are far more blue sky days than gray which means many opportunities throughout the year to serve for maybe just a few hours at a time if that’s all you can spare. While Operation BBQ Relief is known for disaster relief, it is so much more than disasters. Our efforts extend to helping our active duty military and veterans as well as our first responders with our Days of Giving feedings and our new and beautiful Camp OBR,” Randy said.
To learn how you can volunteer with Operation BBQ Relief, download our “OBR Volunteers” smartphone app or visit https://operationbbqrelief.org/volunteer-obr.