SHERWOOD, Ore. -- A man from Sherwood is helping people hit hard by the recent hurricanes. But he’s doing it in a way many of us wouldn’t expect.
He’s cooking barbecue, along with about 150 others across the country. The volunteers fill hungry bellies one hot meal at a time.
After Hurricane Harvey, Tim Lambert hopped on a flight to Texas. He spent 12 days there. Then he went to Florida, where he stayed for five days. The devastation he saw was a reminder that we're all more alike than different.
"All the political boundaries, all the racial boundaries, religious boundaries, sexual boundaries, just go away and everybody works as a team, and that is probably the biggest thing."
Lambert's team was one of the first on the ground in Houston.
“We set up camp and we started cooking hot meals,” he said.
Lambert is a competition barbecue pitmaster from Sherwood. He volunteers with Operation BBQ Relief. It's a national organization that feeds hungry people with platefuls of hearty barbecue.
“We generated 400-some thousand meals in 11 days,” Lambert said.
That's not including the roughly 5,000 airlifted meals.
Lambert now has memories that will stay with him. Some are from Texas.
“Stepping off that chopper and handing the military assets a hot meal, something they hadn't had in 10 days and to see them cry,” he recalled.
Other heartwrenching memories are from Florida.
“The little girls were sitting there eating basically bread crust that was all molded,” said Lambert.
While volunteers foot their own transportation and lodging bills, Lambert said the work, the sweat and the financial costs are all worth it.
“Going out and seeing the people and putting that smile on their face, giving them a hot meal, that is what's important. That's why we do what we do,” Lambert said.
Now Lambert is getting ready to hit the road again to help people in Puerto Rico if he gets the call.
“I'll get on a plane, I'll join my team and we'll cook again.”
For Lambert, the food is important. But above all, what barbecue represents to him is family. He said barbecue brings people together and puts smiles on people’s faces.
He said the Operation BBQ Relief organization always needs donations and volunteers. Visit their website if you’re interested.