SALEM,Ore., (07/02/2015) – For some, holidays are times of joyous reunions with family and tables laden with home cooked goodies. As the fourth of the July nears, Oregon ranchers got together to extend that feeling of community and belonging to those who may not have the opportunity to experience it this holiday.

The Union Gospel Mission of Salem, (UGM), put together a new event where they hosted a barbecue at Riverfront Park. “Holidays can be tough,” said UGM Food Service Manager Michael Kerrigone. He said the goal of this event was to provide a special holiday luncheon for the guests and residents of the Salem UGM. In order to accomplish that, the mission needed a donation of beef.

Patrick Currins of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, (OCA), helped make that donation happen. “We’ve all had to have help sometime,” Currins said. He had been thinking about how Oregon ranchers could play a part in helping the homeless community when he came across the opportunity to donate through UGM. “I’m hoping that this random thought of ‘you can do this’ will give people confidence to keep going.” Currins said the donation was made possible by a collaborative effort between the Oregon Beef Council, (OBC), OCA, rancher Curtis Martin, and Staffords Packing Company.

Will Wise, Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon Beef Council, said, “We were contacted by some local ranches that wanted to help out and the OBC hopes that this small donation helps those in need.”

Michael DuClos, chef for the UGM as well as a food service Intern, started prepping hamburger patties at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning before the event. He really appreciated the beef donation. “It’s nice to be able to serve something so nice.”

Those who attended the lunch were greeted with friendly faces, picnic style games, and of course, a free half pound burger. Corey Record was thrilled with the burgers being given out. “We don’t get to eat a lot of good food like this. Having beef here is great.”

OCA’s staff, Jerome Rosa, Jim Welsh, Kayli Hanley and Brittany Steele came by to show their support for the event. “It was a humbling experience to help the homeless community on behalf of OCA,” Rosa said.

Kerrigone said the donation of beef made close to 300 half pound patties. He expected all of them to be given out, considering a line had started by 9 a.m., two hours before the event commenced. “Without partners like OCA, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” he said. Oregon ranchers donated a total of 292 pounds of burger to help make the lunch possible. Kerrigone hopes that this will turn into an annual event where people in Salem who are experiencing homelessness can count on a good pre-holiday meal.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.

By Kayli Hanley