CORNING, Ark. (KAIT) - "Gotta get busy!" Linden Massey, owner of Harold's BBQ, said as he walks out into the middle of the highway in front of his restaurant in Corning.
He’s clutching bags containing BBQ sandwiches, chips and a snack cake.
He holds one of the bags high into the air with a fluorescent gloved hand. He wears a brightly colored construction vest to be seen amidst all the traffic near where Highways 62 and 67 intersect.
"Have a good day, sir! Drive safe," Massey yells over the roar of a transport truck stopped to get the meal in Massey's outstretched hand.
It's lunch time and Massey has stepped away from his customers inside Harold's BBQ to take care of the truckers working to keep the supply chain going.
"Have a good day! Drive safe," Massey tells another truck driver.
"Thank you! I'm from Mexico," the unidentified driver yells down to Massey.
And, without missing a beat, Massey yells back, “I’m an American!”
No matter where you're from, or where you're going, Massey wants to make sure truckers have a chance to eat... especially during the early days of COVID-19 when everything was shut down.
"They can only eat out of their refrigerator and cooler for so long," Massey said. "I said, 'I've got to get them a hot sandwich. But, I just didn't have supplies.'"
So, Massey took to Facebook.
"Howdy! It's that crazy Pitmaster!"
When store shelves were bare, Massey found it difficult to find the essentials like buns.
"I went to the bread store there in Jonesboro and I got two packages of buns.. just two!" Massey said. No more were available.
But, his appeal of Facebook did the trick.
"People, seriously? Thank you. The donations. A car just pulled up," Massey said. "Several bags of snacks and buns. It just keeps coming in."
He points to a table in the front dining room of Harold's BBQ.
"And this table right here was rounded full by that afternoon," he said. "I'm talking we had hundreds of packages of buns. The community got behind me."
A farmer drives through the area, where Massey is handing out BBQ sandwiches. He uses a loudspeaker to say, “Thank you for supporting our truckers.” Another truck driver honks his horn.
“That first day, I handed out 10 sandwiches. I came right back in and the girls said, ‘Is everything alright?’”
"Yes, I need ten more sandwiches," Massey said. "So we made ten more and in a few minutes I was back in again."
"More?" asked the ladies in his kitchen.
“I said 20 more this time!,” Massey answered excitedly.
"Got to get the bone out of here," Massey said as he worked up the BBQ meat to make sandwiches.
Massey soon realized he had to get more meat; so he would have enough BBQ for his customers, too.
"Be good," Massey said to a woman waiting at his drive-through window. "Tell Harvey I said, 'Hi.'"
Soon companies, like Little Debbie and Frito Lay, got on board giving snack cakes and chips to put into the bags.
"The generosity and the heartfelt gratitude and people have poured their heart in and stood behind me since day one in many, many different ways," Massey said.
Many pay it forward.
"She handed me a wad of money and she said, 'This is all I got.'"
A truck driver for 38 years, Massey knows the sacrifices truckers make and see this as one small way to give back.
"It's hard not to have feelings about other people," Massey said with tears in his eyes. "If this doesn't bother you, you got to get away. I don't want you in my life because this is about people."
Cards and letters line a wall inside Harold's BBQ. Truckers from everywhere saying "thank you."
A French Canadian driver couldn't speak English; but that didn't stop him from saying "thank you."
“He called his dispatcher in Quebec and they called here and told the girls, ‘my driver said, ‘Thank you’ for handing him the meal.”
But, it was a simple letter from a child...that made the biggest difference.
"Here's the hero!"
Meet nine-year-old Jagger George.
"Around here a lot of times the truck drivers have trouble getting food around here and I just think it's so good that he gives every single one (trucker) a bag of food," George said.
So Jagger's Gr8 Acts of Kindness nomination brought family, friends and all of us to Corning for one big surprise!
Massey won $408 for winning the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.
“Congratulations,” Allen Williams, Community President of First Community Bank, said. " I believe kindness is infectious and I think people like you spread kindness to others and make the community a better place for others.”
A picture perfect moment for Jagger and a milestone celebrated not that long ago by Harold's BBQ.
“We just broke 2,500 sandwiches delivered to the truck drivers today! Just now. Actually 2,515! Go Corning!” Massey exclaims on his Facebook video post. “Love you. Love you. Love you!”