Hotdogs for the Homeless is blessed to have many wonderful volunteers, several who help on a regular basis, as well as groups that come in and out to do occasional service work. All are needed and much appreciated.
Every Sunday at 10:30AM, volunteers meet to begin making and packaging the hotdog lunches that will be served to the homeless. We are making between 275 to 300 lunches right now. Between 11:30AM and 11:45AM we hit the streets of Oklahoma City to distribute the lunches to those who are homeless and hungry. We especially look for the ones we know who are not living in shelters, the ones in tents, cardboard “houses,” abandoned buildings, sleeping in fields and in old cars.
Lunch sacks are decorated by students with encouraging messages. This is another simple service project that helps us a lot and the homeless really appreciate. Also, to make our lunch-making process go faster, we have groups pre-wrap the ketchup and mustard packets in napkins for us.
To volunteer please contact:
Beth Solis, Outreach Coordinator
Rick Swyden, Founder and Director
The Heart of the Service
Over the past several years that we’ve been doing this ministry, we’ve witnessed many harsh realities of homelessness on the street. Mental illness, drug addiction, prostitution, domestic violence, and poverty fuel the flame for much of the suffering we see week after week. Toes and feet are lost to frostbite every winter when we get a bad freeze. Cracked and bleeding stumps linger throughout the rest of the year causing these people to limp or take to the streets in wheel chairs. People bathe in the river and in water that collects off the roof tops of abandoned buildings. They keep warm in makeshift tents and huts made out of old mattresses, cardboard boxes, and tarp. Their faces show complete loss of self-worth and hope. Too many of them live this way because they truly believe this is all they can do and no other solution will work for them.
As Rick says again and again, this ministry really isn’t just about the hotdog. The hotdog lunch is our vehicle to meet them face to face and get to know them personally and gain their trust week after week by being there consistently for them. The homeless may have problems, but they are people with hearts and feelings just like you and me. They just need someone to listen and care. When we bring clothing and get to know their special needs and sizes, they talk to us and open up to us about their inner struggles and fears.
We earn their trust and we start to understand what they need the most so we can help them get into rehabs, reconnect them with family members, get them into jobs, medical care, and housing. Many times it takes numerous attempts at rehab before it finally works. Sometimes it doesn’t work and they go straight back to the street. But we can’t judge or give up on them. They hide from us in embarrassment at first, before they realize that we aren’t going to give up on them. Our biggest success story is a former prostitute that we are rehabilitating that we put into drug rehab twice. The last time was her 8th shot at rehab. At the time of this writing she has been off the street, working, connected with her family, and drug free for almost a year and a half. Isn’t God great?
A Volunteer’s Perspective
Volunteer Chris Engel put together the following list of things he witnessed during his time volunteering with Hotdogs for the Homeless:
- Help – you bring Help not only in food, but in financial assistance to actually help people get off the streets. I witnessed this in the two bus tickets to Ft. Worth Texas that you purchased for Summer and James. You even made a phone call to her aunt to pick them up and allow them to stay at her house until they can find work.
- Hope – I witnessed you giving many of these people some real sense of Hope through not only your food, but your offering of assistance in clothing, shoes and general needs that some cannot even find at the shelters.
- Hugs – so many of these people receive and offer hugs from you.
- Handshakes – those that aren’t the “huggy” type will offer and accept your friendship through a simple handshake.
- Hospitality – your kindness and weekly hospitality is present.
- Happiness – through your constant smile and encouragement, many showed a genuine happiness in a difficult time; and the
- Heart of Christ – most importantly, you offer Christ’s goodness and blessings. I witnessed this in the spontaneous prayer offered up by one of your “regulars”. How beautiful it was to see you offer God’s blessings to so many in need.