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Piedmont pitmaster combines taste for barbecue, love for helping others

Southern Barbecue Yankee pitmaster Mike Buchanan is combining the Piedmont's taste for a barbecue with its love for helping others.

With chicken and hot dogs sizzling on the grill, Buchanan explains how he came up with his charitable idea.

"The beginning of all of this was at competitions we enter and seeing how many people would come to the competitions for food and couldn't eat because they couldn't afford it," Buchanan said.

So the team of two that make up Southern Barbecue Yankee started serving cue for a cause. They travel across the Piedmont, setting up in parking lots or community fairs, taking donations from people who pick up a plate. Customers can pay what they can. The contribution gets you chicken, a hot dog and cajun potatoes.

"The measurement of someone's heart never ceases to amaze me," Buchanan said. "We started out with a very large heart and we still have it and everyone that comes out to our stands has the same heart as we do."

Currently, Southern Barbecue Yankee is raising funds for Roger Conner. Conner is waiting for a heart transplant. His insurance will cover the surgery, but it will not cover the monthly expense of taking anti-rejection pills. The reactions Buchanan gets from those that receive the donations are priceless.

"We get people that cry to us because they don't know how to express their words of thanks," he said.

In a few weeks, Southern Barbecue Yankee will begin raising funds for Lee Hockmuth's nonprofit, "Helping Seniors in Need."

"People love his food," explained Hockmuth. "People donate and he has raised money for us. Partnering with him has been a blessing for me."

Your contributions to "Helping Seniors in Need" will help volunteers clean homes, run errands and support social events for Randolph County older adults.

"Let me tell you, I started this business to make a difference in a senior's life," said Hockmuth. "But you know what, they have made a difference in my life."

Mike Buchanan is planning to open his own barbecue restaurant. But he said he will still make time to continue his charitable giving.

"Whether it's at the restaurant or at an event, if somebody is ill and someone calls us, we will be there to help."

To reach out to Southern Barbecue Yankee, their Facebook page is Sby Buchanan.

The non-profit "Helping Seniors in Need" is looking for volunteers and donations to help Randolph County older adults. You can contact Lee Hockmuth at (336) 736-1219.