Hot meals for the homeless

Customer Lebron Durham nominates Deni Heaton, the owner of Chubby's Bar-B-Q, for Pay It Forward. (Image: WTVC)

Every Tuesday afternoon, Chubby's Bar-B-Q in Chattanooga closes up shop, but the cooking doesn't stop.

The restaurant's owner prepares hundreds of meals for the homeless. It's a ministry she started about a year ago.

In this week's Pay It Forward, Jessica Harthorn introduces us to the woman behind the organization, "Heroes Hand Up."

Chubby's Bar-B-Q is well-known for its fantastic food and friendly service, but what happens after the tables are wiped clean and the cash register is emptied is another matter.

Watch as we surprise Deni Heaton, a woman with a passion for feeding the hungry with a home-cooked, hot meal.

Our first stop is Best One Tire in Chattanooga. The tires there are piled high and so is the anticipation on the warehouse manager's face.

Lebron Durham describes the owner of his favorite restaurant. "I don't believe she's met a stranger, she's talkative and treats her customers well," said Lebron.

Lebron says we should see for ourselves, so he jumps in the truck and we follow him to Chubby's Bar-B-Q.

Our camera is rolling as he surprises Deni Heaton hard at work cooking in the kitchen.

"Hey Deni? On behalf of Newschannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm, I want to Pay It Forward, 1, 2, 3,4, 5," surprised Lebron.

"Thank you," replied Deni.

"Thank you! I appreciate what you do," said Lebron.

That's when Deni put Lebron to work, helping to stir the bean soup.

She only has an hour to cut up dozens of loaves of bread, boil the turnip greens and bake 30 pounds of chicken.

Tonight, volunteers will box up 125 meals and pass them out to the homeless in Chattanooga.

"They enjoy seeing us, to know that somebody cares," said Deni.

Outside Chubby's, more volunteers organize a trailer.

Deni says not only will the homeless get a hot meal, they'll receive clothes, food for their pets and personal items.

"Feminine hygiene for the women, sleeping bags, tents," said Deni. Whatever the homeless need, Deni says, she has it covered.

"She's a wonderful person. We need more of these people in the world," said Lebron.

Do you know someone who is deserving? Nominate them here.

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