CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - Willie Fairley of Willie Ray's Q Shack and a team of volunteers have made it back from Texas after helping feed those in need following last month’s winter storm. Many people were left without power, and homes were severely damaged.
Fairley, a household name for many in eastern Iowa, made his way across the country on February 18 to feed Texans.
“We loaded up and went to texas and did what we do best and that’s taking care of people," Fairley said.
The trip was expensive, but donations collected beforehand helped pay for traveling expenses and supplying people with food and other goods.
He and his team are back serving Iowans in the Cedar Rapids barbecue shack. Those who traveled to Texas returned Tuesday and opened the drive-thru restaurant the very next morning.
“It just warms your heart up a little bit when you’re doing something for someone else and you’re not so much focused on yourself,” Fairley said.
The team of volunteers made stops in Houston and Dallas following the devastating winter storm.
“It was definitely pretty bad for those guys you know, with a lot of water pipes bursting in peoples homes, and hotels are packed with people because their homes are water damaged so,” he said.
They handed out grilled food, water bottles, and other supplies to those who expressed need.
This isn’t the first time Fairley helped feed people following a natural disaster. The restaurant owner has handed out free meals locally to Iowans who experienced hardships following last year’s derecho, and he doesn’t plan on stopping.
“When someone’s down and may need a little picking up so we like try and show up,” he said, “We’re just going to keep our ears open and find out where is the next place we need to be and we’ll be traveling there too.”
He and his team continue to serve those in eastern Iowa shelters, without a home, and who still are affected by the derecho.
Fairley plans to hold a “Free Rib Day” to show his appreciation for all of the support he has received from Iowans sometime soon. He says he will post updates on when that event will happen on the Willie Ray’s Q Shack Facebook page.