Mike O’Hara moved to Charlotte in 1996 and wanted to join a church that had opportunities to help the community. Now for over 10 years, he has been serving lunch to homeless every Tuesday at the Urban Ministry Center in Charlotte. “The numbers of people we’ve been serving in the soup kitchen are up this year. The problem, unfortunately, is not going away,” said O’Hara
O’Hara is one of about 650 regular volunteers who serve various roles at the center, the mission of which is to help the homeless.
O’Hara has seen a greater increase of children who come to the center for lunch.
“Sadly, we seem to see more children lately than we used to” O’Hara said. “We hear the call for a ‘child’s plate’ almost every Tuesday at least once or twice.”
On the Tuesday’s that O’Hara volunteers, he said the center serves about 300 people.
“I would say most of them are single homeless people, but anyone is welcome,” he said.
The center is one of over 700 partner agencies receiving food from Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. Second Harvest annually distributes over 50 million pounds of food and other items throughout a 19-county service region.
“I’ve heard people say we don’t have a hunger problem in our country because starvation is virtually unheard of,” O’Hara said, but he said there is a difference between starvation and hunger. “If you don’t know where you next meal is coming from, you will still be hungry tomorrow. “
O’Hara remains hopeful for the community and continues to find faith in the faces at the center.
“I always thought a soup kitchen would be a depressing place,” O’Hara said. “The upbeat mood on both sides of the counter is always uplifting. They are ordinary people like the rest of us.”
From now until June 10, you can donate canned or nonperishable food during the 9 Food Drive.
Because the Food Bank supplies food and essential grocery items to hundreds of agencies, a monetary donation helps all of these organizations. For every $1 the food bank receives, they distribute 7 pounds of food. You can donate now by clicking on this link.
You can also donate nonperishable and canned food at any WSOC-TV Family Focus partner locations. Ashley HomeStore, Showmars, Hendrick Honda and E.R. Plumbing Services until June 10. Find a donation location near you by following this link.
Learn more about the 9 Food Drive at www.9FoodDrive.com
If your organization or business would like to get involved or help with 9 Food Drive or you have an inspiring story to share, please email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV community affairs manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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