Hotdogs for the Homeless was started as a way to reach out to the less fortunate by way of providing a weekly meal that many depend on. Alongside the meals often come socks, toothbrushes, and other supplies that are often seen as staples by the fortunate among us, but as luxuries by some below the poverty line.
There are many reasons people fall below the poverty line and into homelessness, ranging from mental disability to PTSD to simply falling on hard times. Hotdogs for the Homeless is a fantastic way to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate in a tangible, life impacting way. Whether they be unwed mothers, impoverished children, or the homeless: those who show up to benefit from these hotdog lunches feel the difference your support makes.
Rick and Susan Swyden began this faith-based initiative on January 5, 2003 with 16 hotdogs. It has continued to this day bringing a hotdog lunch, fellowship, hugs, prayers, and assistance every Sunday to the homeless of downtown Oklahoma City. The Swyden’s Roman Catholic religion encourages participation in small group study called Renew, that challenges members to study and deepen their faith. Rick was inspired through this small group study to reach out and lend a hand to our homeless. This ministry has grown to encompass participation from countless individuals, churches, Cub Scouts, Confirmation classes, students and private companies.
However, as Rick (known by the homeless as, The Hotdog Man) is the first to share, it’s not just about the hotdogs. The ministry is really an outreach program that has had a part in assisting dozens of homeless people get off the street. It has had a part in reuniting families, furnishing an apartment so an individual could qualify to live there, and getting people into rehab for drugs and alcohol once they decided they were ready — in large part due to the Hotdogs community’s consistent caring and generosity.