Thanks For Giving…

The last month has……..well……..it’s SUCKED!  Physical Therapy, X-Rays, Doctor’s Appointments and the need to deal with 14 rescued HOUNDS prior to each of these events….not to mention the joys of rain and mud when you’ve got 56 paws to clean EVERY time!  O’h I can keep going….there are now surgeons to see and more X-Rays to be had with the inevitable surgical ‘fix’ and the MONTHS of Rehab!!! – BLAH, Blah, blah….

…obviously I’ve had time to form a somewhat ‘bitter’ rind, BUT I have also (FINALLY) had a bit of time to think back over what has been an INCREDIBLE year by ANY measure!  I have had the great pleasure of seeing the best in people on MANY occasions and most of these included BBQ!!!

First, there was Sheriff Franklin’s Command Center in Morgan County Alabama…Ronnie Harwell, Bobby Lewis….ALL the Deputies, Trustees and Community members who made it happen for the residents!  My humility at the support that I received from KCBS, Rocket City Meats, Pat and EVERYONE at the BBQ Shop in Scottsboro, AL and more!  I had a MILLION reasons not to go and through my perseverance, I saw the best that there is to see in my fellow man and woman!  I learned about ‘faith’ and how it works…I saw it over and over again!

Next, to ‘Pay Forward’ the generosity that I was shown by Ron Harwell in Alabama, I was privileged to be a VERY small part of what started out as a ‘bunch of BBQ people’ cooking in a parking lot in Joplin for whoever needed it and turned into a still evolving Operation BBQ Relief (www.OperationBBQRelief.org)!  These folks provided 125,000 FREE Slow Smoked BBQ Meals for the residents and rescuers in Joplin in 5 days!!!  INCREDIBLE and what a sight to see!  It’s a cause WORTHY of your support!

Then as Vermont and New Jersey got hit with unthinkable flooding, I was in the middle of putting together plans to go cook BBQ in each of those states when our own got a ‘double whammy’ with hurricane Irene and the ‘remnants’ of Tropical Storm Lee!  Flooding exceeded record levels and caused unimaginable damage across nearly ALL of Central PA…North to South…it was tough to believe and an obvious need!  SO…as ‘Operation BBQ Relief Central PA’, we brought together 3 cookers who had never met before in a Sam’s Club Parking Lot…got TONS of support from Swatara Township, PA and the Chief & Members of the Rutherford Fire Department (Dauphin County Station 45) and MANY Old (some NEW) friends and fed nearly 5,000 victims and volunteers meals over 3 days!

My iPhone Photo Roll has a truly unbelievable collections of images that I occasionally share with close friends, but only when I have time to provide the appropriate context!  I have SEEN human suffering at its worst this year and it leaves a mark!  I have also, once again seen people rising up in amazing ways to help their neighbors!  I have PROOF that there are many who still CARE and that there are those who truly appreciate it!  I have seen the power of ONE BBQ Meal to bring a smile to the face of someone who’s lost everything and to provide a temporary distraction at a time of need!  I have many people to thank and much to be humble about…I am truly Thankful for everything and everyone who has been a part of this amazing year in my life and Thankful for the lessons that they’ve taught me!

If I don’t get the chance to say so again before Thursday…I wish you a reflective, healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

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