To the Burnt Hickory Bar-B-Q Dudes, it comes naturally.
The informal group, consisting of anywhere between eight and 12 men, organizes barbecue fundraisers for members of the community who have critical or terminal illnesses.
The funds raised through the barbecue go toward medical or funeral costs, or are given to the family of the person who is ill.
Grady Ruff, a member of the group, said a few years back a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he and another friend wanted to do something to help his family financially after he passed.
To raise funds, the men sold barbecue — smoked pork butt, cole slaw and baked beans.
The custom has continued to grow exponentially.
“It’s just the people in Burnt Hickory worked together in a time of need,” Ruff said.
So far, the men have had 14 fundraisers for people in the community, most recently for a North Paulding High School student who is in need of a kidney transplant.
Ruff said the fundraiser earned $6,337. For $8 a plate, that’s moving a lot of barbecue.
But Ruff said people will pitch in more than $8 for a plate of barbecue and all the fixings. He said there have been times where people will pay $20, even up to $100 for a plate, just for the cause.
And the plates are worth every penny, he said.
The group gathers together the day before the fundraiser, beginning to smoke the pork butts nearly 12 hours in advance.
“One lady in Burnt Hickory said she hated to hear someone was sick, but she wished we would do one every weekend,” Ruff said.
Sype Thomason has been a member of the group from the very beginning, and said he helps pass out the plates on the day of the fundraiser. He said his heart led him to help out those in need.
Thomason said it is unusual to find such a tight knit community with residents so willing to help each other out. “This community bonds together,” he said. “They’ll fight for one another.”
Both Ruff and Thomason said while it is sometimes a somber affair raising funds for the terminally ill and their families, it’s a calling to help.
“It’s hard, but we still fight together,” Thomason said. “We fight it tooth and toenail.”