On September 1, 2017 Reedy Branch Baptist Church sent a team to work with the non-profit relief organization known as Operation Barbecue Relief (OBR). The church also delivered and presented a gift of a loaded 24-foot enclosed trailer from South Georgia Caro over in Pearson as it will be used for years to come to help house volunteers as they come to help in future deployments. Steve Goodman represented South Georgia Cargo at the Wednesday evening service before the team left on Friday. The Broxton community, Reedy Branch, Greater Destiny and The Assembly of God were able to fill the trailer with needed supplies before leaving.
The team consisted of Kell and Janet Phelps, Clarence and Vicki Gasque and Bill Everett. The five of them arrived in Houston on the following day after a 20-plus hour voyage that consisted of many back roads due to Interstate 10 being closed down in Louisiana. Upon arriving, the crew was assigned different jobs and immediately went to work with different tasks. The team worked onsite for three days while in Houston. The OBR deployment lasted for a total of 11 days.
Here are a few of the unbelievable numbers for the OBR deployment in Houston:371,760 hot barbecue meals were put out in the Houston deployment; making this the single largest deployment ever for OBR. To produce those meals in Houston here are just a few of the products used: 158,872 pounds of raw pork, 18,588 #10 cans of vegetables and 12,392 full-size aluminum pans and lids were used because over 40 percent of the meals went out in bulk containers that held 250-750 servings.
On September 14, 2017 OBR set up camp in South Florida and started feeding victims of hurricane Irma. It is amazing to see how efficient this organization is. This group doesn't waste and the Reedy Branch crew was proud to support their efforts.Over the month of September the sponsors, volunteers, staff, and donors of OBR put a hot barbecue meal in front of almost 500,000 victims from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.In Florida, a total of 126,400 total meals were served in that nine-day deployment and was comprised of two locations. That is a total of 498,100 meals served in only 26 days by OBR.
As amazing as the above stats, they are just that. These stats do not show the miles, sweat, tears, love, and dedication that were also used to produce them. Those stats cannot be measured because they are engraved on the hearts of the thousands of volunteers, sponsors, and donors that made these numbers possible. We can tell you that lives were touched as we witnessed first hand while filling up cars with pans that transported food to the different shelters around Houston. Part of this operation that we didn't get see was the use of U.S. Border Patrol Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters transporting meals to those who were stranded in Beaumont, which had become like an island with no escape due to flooding.
Let's just be real honest for a second and understand that those in need would have survived with a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) and a bottle of water. Putting nearly half a million of those in the hands of those in need would be an enormous task to accomplish for sure. Putting a freshly cooked and well-seasoned plate of barbecue meat complete with vegetables and fresh bread is something completely different. We think the comparison of the two meals would be like survival food versus soul food. In a time of crisis, which meal would you prefer? This "soul food" really does have a positive effect on disaster victim's outlook -- even if just for a few minutes.
Our goal in this mission was really simple: use the resources that had been provided from God to become the hands and feet of Jesus to those where in need at that time. This is still our mission today as we continue to find ways to serve and help in our community, state, nation and world.