LOS ANGELES – Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey have teamed up with disaster relief organization Operation BBQ Relief to give thanks to first responders nationwide as part of the Bourbon brand’s “With Thanks” annual charitable giving campaign. The program kicked off today in Los Angeles where Wild Turkey Creative Director McConaughey, Master Distiller Eddie Russell and a group of volunteers prepared and delivered turkey dinners to first responders who are critical in the rescue and relief efforts around the current wildfires in the area. The turkeys were generously donated by Butterball®, official turkey sponsor of Operation BBQ Relief.
McConaughey rallied volunteers and jumped behind the grill to help prepare 800 turkey dinners, which were then quickly delivered by the group to more than 20 firehouses of heroes who are battling the wildfires that are raging across Southern California. Volunteers not only prepared meals for first responders, but also cooked and packaged an additional 800 dinners for local homeless shelters. McConaughey took to Facebook Live to encourage folks nationwide to volunteer and donate to help support OBR’s important relief efforts throughout the year, including their current deployment to Northern California, to provide hot meals to the first responders and those affected by the wildfires.
McConaughey and the Wild Turkey team had originally planned to be in Los Angeles in conjunction with National First Responder’s Day to host an event honoring those involved in last year’s Woolsey Fires, but that changed in response to the current emergency situation.
“Teaming up with Operation BBQ Relief as part of the Wild Turkey “With Thanks” has never been more meaningful,” said Wild Turkey Creative Director Matthew McConaughey. “Little did we know when planning this annual event that California, my second home, would once again be hit with devastating fires. Being able to provide meals to the men and women who put themselves on the line is an honor for me, Jimmy and Eddie Russell. We are grateful to be here today to say thank you, shine a light on their unwavering conviction, and hopefully inspire others to get involved and help in their own communities.”
Throughout the month of November and December, Wild Turkey will support Operation BBQ Relief (OBR), a nonprofit that responds to natural disasters and other situations to help feed displaced residents and emergency personnel. Following the Los Angeles relief effort, the Wild Turkey community will work with OBR to thank first responders in Dallas (11/5), New Orleans (11/12) and Chicago (11/19) with turkey dinners. In addition, the spirits brand will make appearances at local Thanksgiving turkey trots, including the New Orleans Athletic Club’s Turkey Day Race and the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot in Austin. As a proud official sponsor of Operation Barbecue Relief, Wild Turkey will also be donating $50,000 to further the organization’s important work. Fans nationwide can donate by visiting https://operationbbqrelief.org/withthanks/.
McConaughey was also on hand last year as Wild Turkey recognized first responders from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, surprising them with a turkey dinner. In 2017, McConaughey visited Wild Turkey’s hometown of Lawrenceburg, KY, to deliver more than 4,500 turkeys to residents, including 500 turkeys to the local food bank. McConaughey personally thanked every food bank employee for their hard work and dedication.
“We are so fortunate to be working with Wild Turkey for the “With Thanks” campaign to shine a spotlight on First Responders across the country. Part of our mission throughout the year is to support these men and women as they are responding to severe situations in their communities,” says Stan Hays, CEO and Co-Founder of Operation BBQ Relief. “BBQ is comfort food and reminds people of good times. These hot meals we are preparing uplift the spirits of the first responders for their hard work each and every day.”
“Wild Turkey is founded on community – from our tight-knit group of distillery employees to the townspeople who have supported us through the years,” said Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell. “To honor that spirit, every year we recognize people who perform extraordinary acts to support their communities – and do it with conviction. We are grateful to have our Creative Director Matthew McConaughey to help us take action and give thanks again this holiday season.”
McConaughey has been the Creative Director for Wild Turkey since 2016. The relationship began upon the actor’s inaugural visit to the iconic Kentucky distillery, where he was introduced to the Russells – the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame® father and son Master Distiller team who have 101 years of Bourbon industry experience collectively. McConaughey had an immediate connection with the Russells when he discovered Wild Turkey’s devotion to distilling Bourbon the right, unapologetic way. In 2018, McConaughey unveiled his own Bourbon: Wild Turkey Longbranch®, a rare small-batch Kentucky straight bourbon refined with Texas Mesquite.
About Wild Turkey Bourbon
The distillery for Wild Turkey Bourbon is located in Kentucky, situated on a deep limestone shelf on the Kentucky River. The shelf acts as a natural filter and provides the distillery with crystal clear water, vital to making such a high-quality product. Wild Turkey features the legendary father and son Master Distilling team of Jimmy and Eddie Russell, who have more than 100 years of collective experience working at the Wild Turkey distillery.
The famous Wild Turkey brand name first came about back in 1940 when distillery executive Thomas McCarthy took a few warehouse samples on a Wild Turkey hunting trip with a group of friends. The following year, his friends asked him for “some of that Wild Turkey whiskey” and the brand was born.
Wild Turkey is distilled and put into new oak barrels at a much lower ABV than most bourbons. This results in a much richer flavor, as less is cooked out during the production process. Ageing in the highest quality new American oak barrels with the heaviest char available (the Number 4 “alligator” char), imparts a smooth flavor and deep amber color to the whiskey.
The barrels are filled at the distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Website: wildturkey.com.
About Matthew McConaughey
Texas native Matthew McConaughey is an Academy Award winning actor, writer, philanthropist, husband and father of three. He’s appeared in over 40 feature films that have grossed over $1 billion dollars. In 2008, McConaughey founded the just keep livin’ Foundation, which is dedicated to transformations through programs that teach the importance of decision-making, health, education, and active living. The Just Keep Livin’ Foundation presently serves 37 schools in 11 states. In 2016, McConaughey also took on a new role: Creative Director, brand spokesman and chief storyteller for Wild Turkey. In collaboration with Master Distiller Eddie Russell, McConaughey co-created his own bourbon, Wild Turkey Longbranch. He also serves as the Minister of Culture/M.O.C for the upcoming University of Texas sports arena.
About Operation BBQ Relief
OBR was established in 2011, following a devastating tornado in Joplin, Mo. Since then, the organization has deployed to disasters including Hurricane Michael in the panhandle of Florida, Hurricane Florence Wilmington, North Carolina, and the Carr fire, all in 2018. Through deployments in 60 disaster-stricken communities and 26 different states across the country, OBR has served 3 million meals, with the help of more than 14,000 volunteers.
In 2017, president and CEO Stan Hays was recognized by CNN as one of their “CNN Heroes” for his work with OBR. In May 2019, Operation BBQ Relief was recognized as The Volunteer Organization of the Year by the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference for their work. Operation BBQ Relief Connects, Inspires, Serves, Educates and Feeds Those In Need.
OBR depends on donations and volunteers to make a difference. Please visit Operationbbqrelief.org to learn how to help.