Volunteers give back to community


DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA)–“There’s a lot of people who don’t have things, and we like taking care of people,” said Debra Barbee, with Vinnie’s Barbee-Q Restaurant. For nearly two decades, Vinnie Barbee and his wife Debra Barbee have done just that. Each year they come to Water Street Mission to serve. “The homeless have been having their Thanksgiving with me for 19 years, and I wasn’t going to stop this year because of that. COVID is not going to stop us,” said Vinnie Barbee with Vinnie’s Barbee-Q Restaurant.

When Vinnie Barbee started this event years ago, he had one thing in mind. “I figured let’s help people,” said Vinnie Barbee. The first year they held this event he helped someone who reminds him today of why he chooses to give back. “I saw someone I went to school with. She was a really smart lady, but she must have been dealt a bad hand. I decided you know let’s just help people because that was a friend of mine,” said Vinnie Barbee. Since then, Barbee has continued the tradition.

They have served a lot of people. “It’s a day a lot of people don’t have a place to go, so they can come share that with me and eat some smoked turkey, macaroni and cheese, green beans, sweet potatoes,” said Vinnie Barbee. “A lot of work, a lot of hours, a lot of cooking,” said Debra Barbee.

However, Vinnie and Debra Barbee say it’s all worth it. “It makes me feel like I’m fortunate to be able to do this,” said Vinnie Barbee. “It makes me feel good to make somebody else happy and makes you warm inside,” said Debra Barbee.

Vinnie’s Barbee-Q Restaurant is also collecting toys for families. People can drop off toys at the Old Book Barn in Forsyth and The Glass House in Decatur. The last day to donate is December 15th.

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