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click to enlarge L'AURA MONTGOMERY-RUTT
  • L'Aura Montgomery-Rutt

About three years ago, Gary Snipes noticed that the vending-machine company he worked for threw out several bags of chips at the end of each week. Rather than watch them go to waste, Snipes decided to walk around on Saturdays and give the chips to the area's homeless. Pretty soon, he brought sandwiches as well.

Now, he serves about 120 to 200 homeless people a hot meal every Sunday at Dorchester Park, south of downtown.

"I'm not going to cure homelessness or hunger," says Snipes (pictured above). "I'm just trying to set an example. It's like I tell my friends, "You can do a lot to help people with just a little.'"

The meals started at Acacia Park, "but that became a zoo," Snipes says.

Businesses were complaining, and confused families were getting in line for the free chili and hot dogs. "So we moved to Dorchester Park. There's a shelter there. It's more like a community."

About 6 to 12 volunteers show up each week, and Snipes estimates that 80 percent of the money for the meals about $35 a week comes from his own pocket. He does get some help, though, from Care & Share and, most recently, Pepsi.

"Now we have a little more money for plates and forks," he says.

Snipes might not end hunger and homelessness with his endeavor but it's a start.

"I'm just a working guy," he says. "If I could afford a huge center with showers, I'd build it, but I'm just doing what I can."

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