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Serving Hope after Florence: Operation BBQ Relief Serves 250k Meals

Operation BBQ Relief Serves 250k+ Meals

On September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas hard. High winds, storm surge, and heavy rains led to widespread destruction and massive flooding.

Once the storm passed, Operation BBQ Relief (OBR) went to work, and Blue Rhino was proud to support.

For OBR, the first step was to assemble volunteers, supplies, and equipment in a Wilmington, North Carolina parking lot. Then the cooking began, and it only took a few days for the group to barbecue more than 225,000 meals. Each meal was distributed to those affected by the storm by Salvation Army canteens, civic groups, and churches in a 5-county area around Wilmington.

During this deployment, Operation BBQ Relief hit a milestone: its two millionth meal served since its founding in 2011. "It's not that we've served 2 million meals, but we've served the one important meal that's made a difference in somebody's life when everything has gone wrong," said David Marks, Chief Marketing Officer. "We've served that one meal two million times."

More than 100 volunteers worked for OBR each day of its deployment. Some manned commercial smokers, which cooked hundreds of pork butts at a time. Other volunteers, stationed in "Sidesville," made beans, rice, gravy, mashed potatoes, and other sides. Still more packed up the food for distribution.

One bite of OBR's food will tell you that this is a talented bunch. Among the volunteers are men and women who have won famous BBQ competitions such as Memphis in May and the American Royal. Others have appeared on national TV cooking shows.

Throughout, Blue Rhino provided the propane. Driver Ronnie Braswell delivered dozens of Blue Rhino propane tanks to OBR on Saturday morning, September 22. Braswell arrived early after driving around still-flooded streets and past damaged houses. Ferrellgas bobtail driver Tome Gordo came on Sunday to top off the other propane tanks on site.

To learn more or to help Operation BBQ Relief and its partnership with Blue Rhino, go to or

Image on the left: An aerial view of Operation BBQ Relief's Wilmington operation.

Operation BBQ Relief
Fresh Blue Rhino tanks stand ready to fuel OBR's massive commercial smokers.‚Äč

Operation BBQ Relief
Blue Rhino delivers to OBR. L to R: David Marks, OBR CMO; Ronnie Braswell, Blue Rhino driver; Stan Hays, OBR CEO; and Jeremy Bruce, OBR CTO.

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