When tragedy strikes, one thing that always impresses me is our state's willingness to help out another in need. Its proven itself over and over again -- at a time when our fellow neighbor is looking for a helping hand, our ingrained sense of Minnesota nice comes barreling through.
That has never been quite as clear as in the aftermath of a deadly tornado that ripped through the Twin Cities, devastating the area of north Minneapolis.
After seeing the shocking visuals of what's left and hearing the heartbreaking stories of those affected, it seemed like everyone's immediate instinct was, "how can I help?"
Beyond basic needs and shelter, food was also in demand right off the bat. Many families no longer had a home, let alone a kitchen to cook in. And that's when some local food trucks saw a perfect opportunity to help. Truly, the beauty of a "mobile kitchen" has never been more of an asset.
"We don't use the truck in the evening, we only serve lunch during the day with it, so it's a great mobile kitchen to have available," said Josh Thoma, owner of Smack Shack.
He and his colleagues will head to north Minneapolis at Lyndale and Lowry starting at 5 p.m. and going "until the food is gone" to serve the victims of the deadly storm. Thoma said when the city approached them to help, the answer was obvious.
"I didn't even hesitate," he said. "It's something we should do. If it was my home that this happened to, it'd be great if someone would do it for me, so we're happy to do it."
Thoma said they'll be serving a number of different food items for free, plus their famous Lobster Roll for 75 percent off. Lakes Gas donated propane for the truck and they'll be handing out food and water donations from Cub Foods.
"We hope that people can get a little relief and a hot meal," Thoma said.
Joining the crusade, Nate Beck, of Nate Dogs will be giving away 500 hot dogs at the Cub Foods at 701 W. Broadway, where a free BBQ is taking place to help those in need. The BBQ starts at 5 p.m. Mayor R.T. Rybak will also be in attendance to talk with neighbors and north side residents.
Beck said this is just another extension of his "get a dog, give a dog" efforts. He said the goal behind Nate Dogs is that for every hot dog they sell, they will take that profit and give it back -- either through monetary funds or a free hot dog.
They've only been in business for about two weeks, but Beck said he jumped at the chance to help out.
"Basically, if I'm going to say 'get a dog, give a dog,' I might as well prove it. This is my first chance to prove it and use this cart to give back to the community," he said.
Gastrotruck will be there to help out as well as Steve from Simply Steve's food truck. Together, they hope to serve as many people as possible and if needed, keep coming back until they're no longer needed.
Beyond serving up a tasty hot dog, Beck said he also wants to serve up a little hope.
"At a basic level, we want to give some encouragement. Just show them a smiling face and tell them that we're thinking of them and praying for them," he said. "This is just a very small way that we can hopefully give them a little bright spot in their day."
The World Street Kitchen is also planning to help out. They will donate and serve food for north Minneapolis residents between 3 and 6 p.m. at Penn Avenue and Golden Valley Road.
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