After Texas Shooting, an Outpouring of Love—and BBQ

Fundraiser to show victims' families 'their neighbors care' is wildly successful
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 12, 2017 9:33 AM CST
After Texas Church Shooting, an Outpouring of Love—and BBQ
Miguel Zamora stands a cross for the victims of the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church shooting at a makeshift memorial, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The line of cars already stretched for miles before noon when Gage Laubach arrived at a tiny church outside San Antonio where a barbecue was being held to raise money for victims of the mass shooting in nearby Sutherland Springs. The steady stream of cars was still coming Saturday evening, hours after the Smokin' Angels BBQ Ministry opened its doors at Saint Mark's Lutheran Church. Organizers expected to feed maybe a few thousand people. But within an hour, the group ran out of the 5,000 pounds of meat volunteers stayed up smoking overnight. Another quick post on social media, and more than 6,500 pounds of additional meat arrived: turkeys, chickens, slabs of beef and pork. The cars—and donations—kept coming. "I don't know if we've slept in the last three days, but we felt a calling," said Mike Ritch, who co-founded Smokin' Angels BBQ Ministry after Hurricane Harvey. Ritch estimated tens of thousands of meals would be served by the end of the night.

The victims' families are "lost right now, and not much can take that away. But if they see this support, they'll see that their neighbors care," said Labauch, who along with his friends unfurled a 30-foot Texas flag over the parking lot. People honked and stopped to take photos and selfies with the flag. Plates were priced at $10, but Ritch said dozens of people paid more for to-go orders. He said all the money will go directly to the families. "There was one guy who came through the line and ordered four plates, and he gave us $400," Ritch said, grinning. "There's not just one story of generosity worth telling. It's everyone who came." Ritch, 34, and his wife started the ministry after volunteering during the recovery efforts for Hurricane Harvey. "We saw what we could do with barbecue," Ritch said. Ritch will announce the total raised on Sunday, reports WITN.

(More church shootings stories.)

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