Church members helping materialize MLK's dream

January 17, 2011 8:49:59 PM PST
It's been called one of the greatest calls to action ever -- Dr. Martin Luther King, junior's historic "I Have a Dream" speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to hundreds of thousands fighting for civil rights. His message that day -- that we must work together to create a better future for all Americans -- is a call to action that one local group answers every week with something as simple as a sandwich.

They are just a few volunteers with a few truckloads of food who spend only about an hour in downtown Houston every other week, but they make they have what they do down to a science.

Armed with bags of sandwiches and a giving spirit, a half-dozen volunteers just made Morgan Collins' night a better one.

"Just trying to make my way," Collins said.

The former refinery worker has been living on the streets of downtown Houston for six months now and looks forward to the small but steady homeless ministry that helps him survive.

"I'm grateful that they come out and they hand out food for us," he said.

Every first and third Monday, Christ the Servant Lutheran Church helps to feed Houston's homeless.

"We can't forget about the homeless," church member Russell Riggs said. "They are human beings."

They find them in shelters or on the street. The idea was born as Pastor Jim Giannantonio pondered a pricey dinner tab 23 years ago.

"I was able to feed 40 people for what it cost to feed me one meal, and that's when I talked to the congregation about it," he said.

And they've been doing it ever since. The menu is simple: cold cuts, water and granola bars, in addition to hygiene kits and blankets when needed.

They make five to stops, and people are quick to respond. They are grateful and so are the volunteers for the experience.

"I'm very blessed with what I have, and these things -- it's inspiring," church member Curtis McKinley said.

Other churches in west Houston, where Christ the Servant is located, also help with the ministry. Many high school kids for service projects make the sandwiches. On average, they feed 300 people a night.

After 23 years of doing this, Pastor Giannantonio said he won't stop until no one is hungry, and we agreed that meant for a long time.