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Non-profit organization helps feed those in need in Hurricane Ian aftermath

Operation BBQ Relief 1
Operation BBQ Relief 2
Operation BBQ Relief 3
Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 03, 2022

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (WFTX) - There’s something about getting a hot meal after a long day.

“We put out 5,000 meals for lunch today. 2,000 of them will have gone out of this parking lot,” Stan Hays, Co-Founder & CEO of Operation BBQ Relief, said.

For those in Charlotte County, it’s been a long four days dealing with Hurricane Ian and its aftermath.

“Me and my sister haven’t ate nothing for a couple of days. We’ve just been snacking on chips and stuff,” said Sharon Blandin, who stopped at the Port Charlotte supply site at the Charlotte Sports Park, said.

It’s safe to say it’s a welcomed sight for folks to see the volunteers of Operation BBQ relief and the non-profit’s CEO Stan Hays.

“The satisfaction you get, handing somebody a hot meal and, you know, seeing their thanks it’s truly one of the most humbling things that I’ve seen and experienced. It’s amazing to see how positive everybody is being.”

Despite everyone being positive, Hays says this hurricane is posing new challenges to getting people to help the needy and deserve.

“A lot of services are coming in much slower. Working with the state trying to get everything port-potties, to fuel in, all of these little pieces. But, we’re also about 24 hours ahead of normal,” said Hays.

“I mean the state has asked us to ramp up food production to our highest levels that we’ve ever done.”

Hays also says the meat to make that delicious and donated BBQ came in at 9:30 Saturday night.

And do those levels you need some eager volunteers, including some wanting to help after dealing with their first hurricane.

“Well, in times of crisis, everybody just put their differences aside and just pull together and help," said Tony Benavides, an Operation BBQ Relief Volunteer.

"It’s really what it boils down to; just basic humanity."

“And it’s a blessing to get this stuff,” said Bladin.

A member of the U.S. Army National Guard that was also donating supplies of MREs and cases of water to people said they were handing out tarps to people as well.

The co-founder and CEO of Operation BBQ Relief said they’ll be here indefinitely until the pickup site shuts down.