Matthew McConaughey Heads ‘BBQ Relief’ to Feed California First Responders Battling Blazes

Matthew McConaughey is as famous for his numerous offscreen activities as his onscreen, including his role as “Minister of Culture” for the future University of Texas at Austin sports arena, minority of owner Austin FC, and creative director at Wild Turkey distillery. While these side projects all highlight his sense of fun, none reveal his heart as much as the actor’s “Give Thanks” charity campaign.

For several years running, McConaughey and his team partnered with California-based Operation BBQ relief, which has made hundreds of turkey dinners for first responders.

This year’s delivery of over 800 dinners at 20 different fire stations is especially poignant, because the first responders whom McConaughey and his team fed are in the midst of fighting some of the worst fires the state has seen in years.

Wild Turkey With Thanks

We’re in LA supporting first responders with Operation BBQ Relief. Operation BBQ Relief provides hot meals to those in need during times of disaster, and we’re proud to be their sponsor. Click here to donate and get involved: or Text DONATEOBR to 41444

اس پر ‏‎Matthew McConaughey‎‏ نے شائع کیا جمعہ، 1 نومبر، 2019

“Little did we know when planning this annual event that California, my second home, would once again be hit with devastating fires,” McConaughey said in a Wild Turkey press release.

“These hot meals we are preparing uplift the spirits of the first responders for their hard work each and every day,” said Stan Hays, CEO of Operation BBQ Relief.

Each year, the “Give Thanks” campaign has taken on a slightly different form. As Eddie Russell, the master distiller at Wild Turkey, explained in a video that McConaughey posted on Facebook, “The first year we delivered turkeys to every home in Lawrenceburg [where the distillery is based in Kentucky], last year we went to Texas, to Houston, to pay tribute to the first responders for the [July 4, 2018] floods.”

While they had planned to come to California to honor firefighters’ achievements in battling the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and L.A. counties in November 2018, their trip turned out to be less along the lines of tribute and more about supporting crews trying to put out the ongoing statewide blazes.

Operation BBQ Relief, the partner organization for this year’s campaign, has been serving meals in disaster situations since 2011. CEO Stan Hays believes that “BBQ is comfort food and reminds people of good times” and explained to McConaughey that the organization has served a staggering 3 million meals since its inception.

“Now we added a non-disaster component, where we go out and serve military, first responders, and focus on the fight on hunger,” Hays said. This year, the organization won’t just be feeding first responders but also some of the families that have been displaced by the fires.

Matthew McConaughey speaks with firefighters in the L.A. area. (©Getty Images | Rich Polk)

As McConaughey said in the press release, “We are grateful to be here today to say thank you, shine a light on their unwavering conviction, and hopefully inspire others to get involved and help in their own communities.”

From Southern California, Wild Turkey and Operation BBQ Relief teams plan to hit the road with their mission, “putting some food in some bellies that are going to need it,” as McConaughey explained in the video. Upcoming stops in November 2019 leading up to Thanksgiving include Dallas, New Orleans, and Chicago.

McConaughey didn’t just draw attention to the event; he actually got behind the grill, helping to prepare meals for the first responders and went in person to several stations to deliver them. As Wild Turkey master distiller Eddie Russell said, “We are grateful to have our Creative Director Matthew McConaughey to help us take action and give thanks again this holiday season.”

Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey’s Eddie Russell preparing meals for first responders (©Getty Images | Rich Polk)

This year’s fire season has not only included forest fires in remote areas; rather, some of the worst damage has come in populated areas like the Sonoma County wine country, Simi Valley, and the Getty. While most of California’s fires have been contained, the state continues to suffer widespread power outages caused by the blazes’ disruptions of the electric grid.

The L.A. area’s celebrities have been directly affected by the fires. Basketball legend LeBron James and actors Ryan Phillippe and Kristin Davis all had to evacuate their houses as a result of the Getty Fire, per US Weekly.

Many Hollywood stars have stepped up to show their support for first responders who have been battling the fires, including WWE wrestler and actor John Cena, who donated US$500,000 to two charities chosen by Paramount Pictures, the LA Fire Department Foundation and the California Fire Foundation.

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Author: Robert Jay Watson