Big bbq hearts may sound like something you’d see on Bizarre Foods, but I’m actually dedicating this piece to people from the bbq crowd, who have big hearts and use their grill skills to give back to others (Sorry offal lovers, that’s another article). Have you ever noticed that people who love to barbecue, seem to have hearts for helping people? I don’t think it’s just because barbecue is a hospitality-related industry. It seems to ring true for people involved in competition bbq and backyard bbq chefs as well. In general, people who love to cook, love to share their passion and love to put smiles on people’s faces.
This article will serve as a running roster for people in the world of barbecue, who give back to the community. At the end of this article you’ll find rosters of the names of bbq folks who have contributed time, money and other resources to
give to people in need. I’m asking anyone who has used their bbq passion to reach out to others in some way, to send your name and the names of anyone else involved, with photos (if available) so that I can add you to the list. It should include anyone who helped, even if they just picked up trash or made phone calls. I’ll simply add the names to the running roster, one that I hope will continue to grow for a long time. The purpose? It’s not just for accolades, although these people certainly deserve recognition. It’s also designed to hopefully ignite more flames. Love is contagious. In a world of so much negativism, I hope to, in some small way, spread some positive light and in doing so, encourage more to join in. The news networks spend so much time airing the bad. Let’s shine the spotlight on good people and allow their positive influence to rub off on us and others.
Why focus on the BBQ crowd?
The world is full of people who give back, bbq-related or not. So why am I only focusing on bbq people who give back in this article? Well, there’s the obvious-that this is bbq themed website. But more specifically, here were my motivators-three things that influenced this article:
Xodrick Mitchell’s Community Outreach-Grilled and Fulfilled
When Kenny Perkins told me that he had a friend who set up his grill in a public park in downtown Memphis to feed the less fortunate-sometimes twice a year, I was humbled. He’s not promoting a business. He’s not writing a book. He’s not marketing a bbq sauce. He just shows
up with family and several of his friends to feed 75-100 total strangers from his grill for free! I’ve bought meals for Mike, the homeless man near work downtown. But what Xodrick’s “barbecue crew” is doing is something more. It’s more personal than dropping off a paper bag with a smile and a kind word, then leaving. This is hanging out for awhile. It’s saying, “I’m not only here to provide a meal. I’m here to be with you.” They pitch in time, money, food and work for nothing in exchange, except for the gratification of giving. It’s good people spreading positive vibes. Besides getting a hot meal for the day, people received hygiene kits, conversation and a sense of community. People who might otherwise have been overlooked by society, could feel that someone cared for them. That sacrificial love comes from a heavenly source and we would all do well to glean some of it…then share it. Scroll down to the end for the list of names of volunteers and contributors. Send names of anyone who involved to be added.
Operation BBQ Relief-Barbecue Rescue
When I heard about Xodrick and began thinking of the article, I also remembered Operation BBQ Relief. I’d already written briefly about OBR in my review of Pop’s Smokehouse, which can be read here-Pop’s Smokehouse BBQ. Pop’s owner Jeff Toney of the highly decorated bbq team Boar’s Night Out explained to me that OBR is a network of bbq cooks, often competition teams and food trucks, who come together to provide some disaster relief to victims of natural disasters, by showing up and feeding countless thousands hot barbecue meals. Jeff, his Wife Kim, other BNO members and still countless other bbq team members have pitched in gas, work, food, money, time, passion and love to supply needs and spread good cheer during times of devastation. In spring of 2017, John David Wheeler, pit-master of the world-class bbq competition team Natural Born Grillers and co-owner of Memphis Barbecue Co in Horn Lake, MS, admonished me to become involved with Operation BBQ Relief. I decided to take the first step by registering, which only took a few minutes. It’s a small first step anyone can take to get started. Until I have the opportunity to deploy, I’ll start by spreading the word here. Thanks for the challenge John. And thanks to all the other heroes of the pit out there helping people whose lives have been turned upside-down. Scroll down to the end for the list of names of volunteers and contributors. Send names of anyone who involved to be added.
Laddie Morris-Smoky Sympathy
For around fifty years, Morris Grocery was a quintessential mom and pop bbq shop in Eads, TN, where Laddie Morris smoked no frills, old-school barbecue that had people going back for decades. For half a century, he smoked amazing Boston butt barbecue, until he just recently closed the doors this summer, 2017. When I first wrote my review of Morris Grocery a couple of years ago, several people reached out to share with me their personal stories of Laddie Morris feeding them or their family, when they were in need or in some cases, couldn’t pay. Some stories have been shared with me in
person, others in the comments section of my article, which can be read here-Morris Grocery. Since I recently posted his closing in social media, even more people reached out with numerous posts on my Facebook page Memphis BBQ Guide-enough that if I interviewed each one, I could write a book about the positive influence Laddie Morris has had on the lives of the people who walked through the old door of that quaint little cinder block building in rural Tennessee. But He did have help. I can’t leave out his daughter, Yolanda Morris, who was always by his side, as well as other friends and family. This bbq legend is known both for his smoky barbecue and his big heart. I have a feeling, the name Laddie Morris will continue to warm hearts, well beyond his years. Scroll down to the end for the list of names of volunteers and contributors.
The old adage, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration” holds true, not just with genius, but as a general principle and certainly applies here. Being inspired is just the beginning. The act of love is not complete until action follows. Let’s challenge ourselves to take that next step by using our skills and talents to reach out to others-bbq or otherwise. I hope many more are inspired by the lives and work of these great men and women to grab the torch, light some fires and smoke some meat…for others.
Thanks for visiting my BBQ blog! Comments are welcome.
Xodrick Mitchell’s Grill Volunteers and Contributors
XODRICK MITCHELL-MORRIS PARK
KENNY PERKINS-MORRIS PARK
SHAY BURTON-MORRIS PARK
SABRINA MITCHELL-MORRIS PARK
NATOSHA MITCHELL-MORRIS PARK
DIANNE MITCHELL-MORRIS PARK
KENNY PEETE-MORRIS PARK
JEFFREY GIBSON-MORRIS PARK
LAWANDA CARNES-MORRIS PARK
JOHNATHAN WILLIAMS-MORRIS PARK
DANITRA WILLIAMS-MORRIS PARK
DEBRA HARLEY-MORRIS PARK
LATISHA WILLIAMS-MORRIS PARK
ANTONIO GATES-MORRIS PARK
PAMELA DANIEL-MORRIS PARK
ERIKA CARR-MORRIS PARK
Operation BBQ Relief Volunteers and Contributors
JEFF TONEY-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT & POP’S SMOKEHOUSE BBQ
KIM TONEY-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT & POP’S SMOKEHOUSE BBQ
ALLEM SMITH-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT
SCOTT GUY-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT
LANNY FOWLER-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT
ERIC HODSON-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT
KENDAL ADAIR-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT
BOB DENTON-BOAR’S NIGHT OUT
JOHN DAVID WHEELER-NATURAL BORN GRILLERS
MARK LAMBERT-SWEET SWINE O’ MINE
LADDIE MORRIS-MORRIS GROCERY
YOLANDA MORRIS-MORRIS GROCERY