Entrepreneur, chef, veteran, and philanthropist Jamie McDonald, Co-Owner of Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ, is no stranger to rolling up his sleeves and helping out people in need. He’s currently at the Ukraine-Poland border cooking thousands of meals a day for refugees.
“My stance has always been to use Bear’s as a vehicle to support the community because, at the end of the day, if you put good out there, you’ll get good in return. It’s not because there’s an expectation, it’s because it’s the right thing to do,” he told MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price early in the pandemic, when he was distributing food.
This is Jamie’s first time volunteering with World Central Kitchen (WCK), he said in an interview with WTIC, noting that in the states he usually works with Operation BBQ Relief, which helps with national disasters. Watching the news, Jamie saw WCK was mobilizing and contacted them. A couple days later, he was on the Ukraine-Poland border.
“I know how to cook and I know how to cook large-scale,” he told Fox & Friends First about his decision to physically help out. “I’m not the type of person to have the ability and opportunity to help somebody and pass it by—and these people really need it.”
In addition to his boots on the ground approach, Jamie created a Facebook fundraiser. He encourages people to contribute, donate directly to the WCK, or purchase BBQ sauce and rubs from Bear’s locations and Big Y & Geissler’s grocery stores. This month, 25% of all Bear’s BBQ sauce and rub sales will be donated to WCK to help support their efforts.
Through his efforts, so far Jamie has helped raise about $65,000.
He shared via social media:
“Even though we are cooking thousands of meals a day we are all proud of the food we serve. It’s what we eat ourselves and I wouldn’t hesitate to feed it under normal circumstances. Watching this mother and daughter enjoy the food we have made is what it’s all about. A place to rest, get a hot meal, refuel, and get ready for the next step of their onerous journey while being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. I treat our customers from Ukraine no different than I would treat a customer back home.”
He told WTIC, “Right now we’re all just focused on feeding as many people as possible and helping them on their way to starting their new lives wherever they end up.”