For The Madera Tribune
Lisa Gill and Joey Moreno of Sugar Pine Smokehouse BBQ put together meals for fire evacuees. They are making 900 meals daily for lunch and dinner.
For the past several days, Sugar Pine Smokehouse (1830 Cleveland Ave.) has been providing 900 meals each day to help Madera County evacuees of the Creek Fire.
The restaurant prepares 450 lunches and dinners that are distributed throughout Madera County.
“We collaborated with the American Red Cross,” said Sugar Pine Smokehouse General Manager Lisa Gill. “We are serving the Madera County people that have been evacuated from the Creek Fire. Eighty-six of those meals are are distributed to families in Madera. The others are taken up to Oakhurst and given to Madera County evacuees. It’s been really good and very busy. We’re happy to be able to help out. We’re at a point where it’s going to be a financial hardship on us. We’ve been reaching out to the community and service clubs to get help with a monetary donation to help feed the families.”
The donations started early after Gill gave meals to volunteers at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds.
“Red Cross contacted me,” she said. “We fed the volunteers at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds who were taking care of the horses. We kind of did little things to help out. Then, the Red Cross called me and asked if we could provide meals for about 40 at that time. About two days later, we were at 450. It grew on us really fast.”
However, the donations are starting to wear on Smokehouse and the restaurant needs help from the community. Gill said they are looking for donations, either monetary or by donating items to put in the boxes. However, she is thankful for some of the the service clubs that have helped out.
“The Evening Lions have been pretty amazing,” she said. “They have been sending us volunteers to help with boxing the food. They have also given us a monetary donation. A Merced car club brought in a lot of food, including bread and apples. Howard 4-H brought us watermelon that we were able to cut up into boxes. It’s not just monetary people can help, but it’s also items we can put in the food boxes.
“It can be anything from grapes and watermelons,” she said. “If anyone wanted to make a huge portion of rice one day so we can put with the tri-tip, that will help. Vegetables will help cut down on cost. We are open at 7 a.m., so we take donations throughout the day.”
Gill is proud to be able to contribute, but says she also gets a sense of satisfaction when donations come to her to be able to help out.
“It feels great to be able to help out community,” she said. “These poor people have been displaced. I have an amazing staff that have all participated. A lot of them have come in on their own time to prepare and package meals. We really feel like we’re a family here and we count on our community to be successful in our business. To be able to give back is really big for us. It feels great to have the support of the people. The kind words and the messages people are sending us feels really good.”
To donate or for information, call the restaurant at 674-1212.