Glide Memorial hands out bags of food to thousands

December 19, 2012 11:56:24 AM PST
San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church is handing out bags of holiday groceries to thousands of people in need. Many of them camped out in the cold overnight for a chance at the food.

The food giveaway started Wednesday around 7:30 a.m. and was a steady, constant stream of people all morning long.

Ellis Street had to be shut down to accommodate the mass of people waiting in line for a free bag of groceries. Even Reverend Cecil Williams was taken aback by the crowds, and he's been doing this for 50 years, "Some of these folks have been here since 1 p.m. yesterday. God, that's something."

The stories in line varied. One man told us this was his first here and hopefully his last, "Well, I don't get paid til next week," resident Tony Cole said. "So, you know, I'm a little low on funds this week, and I thought I'd do it."

Another was a veteran who lives on social security. 40 percent of it goes toward his rent, "I live on a real limited income and I just barely make it each month," resident Joe Atkins said.

Workers at Glide Memorial Church say his story is becoming very common. The bulk of people they serve are seniors, "You know, it's just growing, it's growing," said Jean Cooper, Director of Community Building. "And, you know, I think a lot of us in the business, if you will, we just see this, we call it the silver tsunami."

Many of the volunteers at Wednesday's morning's giveaway work for the Gap, a corporate sponsor that made this possible, "I'm really happy, I'm glad I'm doing this because I love giving back to the people," volunteer Cadarious Mayberry said. "So, this is kind of a fun experience to do this."

And then there were volunteers who were there on their own, "It's something I've thought about doing for years and haven't," volunteer Eileen Whitesides said. "So, it's time. I can't give money but I can certainly give my time." She enjoyed it so much she signed up to volunteer six more times this month.

"I think it's a really good thing they do it," Atkins said. "If they didn't do this, I wouldn't have a Christmas."

Authorities expect to give out 5,500 bags of groceries today. The event was open to anyone, you didn't have to show proof of your need.

Rev. Williams tells ABC7 News he knows that people will hustle them, but he says they're serving the masses that that's what matters.


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