OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Barbeque businesses and volunteers from South Mississippi are preparing to head to Moore, Oklahoma, in the next few days. They will join a national effort to serve up hot, juicy barbeque dishes to tornado victims, emergency personnel, and relief workers.
Before they leave, they are collecting canned goods and food service supplies. Those drives have sparked an outpouring of support for those in the disaster zone.
Just hours after the collection drive started at The Shed Restaurant in Ocean Springs, donations came pouring in. Samantha Smith and her two-year-old son Spenser dropped off a big bag Wednesday.
"We brought paper towels, salt and pepper, utensils," said Smith.
Those supplies will go directly to a cause that's helping people who are suffering in Moore, Oklahoma.
"It's heart wrenching to see them go through this," said Smith. "We always want to help whenever we can. We lived through Katrina. We had a lot of people donate and help us out and it makes a big difference to give back, even if it's just a little."
All three locations of The Shed are donation points for "Operation Barbeque Relief." OBR is made up of barbeque restaurants, caterers and competition teams. As soon as a disaster strikes, they can set up mobile kitchens to feed the masses, or support the campaign by gathering canned goods and food service supplies.
"What OBR does is they go into these natural disaster areas and put food in the mouths of victims," said Brooke Lewis, The Shed Co-Owner. "When there's no power, and no water supply, us barbequers, all we need is meat and wood and charcoal."
Jamie Bates owns a gourmet barbeque sauce and dry rub business in Gulfport. He will be flying out to Moore, OK, on Friday to volunteer and distribute gift cards to a nearby church.
"So many came to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina for years to respond and help us in our time of need. So this is a just a small way for us to give back. We're going to go and help serve food, help cook food. So far, they've served 12,000 meals just the first day," said Jamie Bates, Daddy's BBQ Owner.
For those who can't be there in person to help, donating what they can is their way of giving hope to people in despair.
"That is a way we feel that we can help when we can't actually have our boots on the ground," said Lewis. "It's amazing and comforting that people reach out, and I think the people on the Gulf Coast, after Katrina and Isaac and the things that we've been through, realize how important it is to pay it forward."
The donated items at The Shed will be picked-up next Tuesday.
Here are the supplies needed:
- Large cans of vegetables
- to-go boxes
- paper towels, plates, napkins
- aluminum pans, lids and foil
- plastic utensils
- food prep gloves
- cleaning and sanitizing supplies
You can also drop off those supplies at Shaggy's restaurants in Biloxi and Pass Christian, as well as Scranton's Restaurant in Pascagoula. No clothing will be accepted.
If you would like to contribute by giving gift cards, you can drop them off at any of these locations:
- Negrotto's Gallery in Biloxi
- 13th Street Salon in Gulfport
- Compass Imaging in Gulfport and D'Iberville