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Charity Gives Hugs In Exchange For Meals

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

For one day a month, the park across from Wichita's public library is transformed into a makeshift cafeteria.

Every person is given a hot meal in exchange for a hug.

"There are people that have been coming here for a long time and if you ask them, they come for the hug and the food is secondary," said David Hill, founder of www.1spark.net.

Dozens of volunteers donate their time to feed the bellies of hungry men and women, but they said feeding the hearts of people gives them the greatest satisfaction.

"Three or four people told me they haven't been hugged in 10 or 12 years. For us, I think when you give, you get 10 times more back," said Hill. "It's an unbelievable feeling."

Men like Chuck Hudson said the fellowship and food that the One Spark program gives is a blessing to him and his friends, who have fallen on some tough times.

"If it wasn't for these people, a lot of us would be starving. They're doing a real good thing. I appreciate it. We all appreciate it," said Hudson.

Organizers said nearly half of the people they serve are veterans. They are men and women who are willing to help others, like the volunteers who were helping them today.

"There's been 25 guys painting a home. So, even though they're homeless, even though they're unemployed, they're willing to give back," said Hill. "It's not the fact that if they deserve it. Everybody deserves a warm meal."

The meal and the hugs are what people look forward to once a month.

"These guys are great. Right over here, where it's a nice peaceful place. They didn't have to do this but they did it out of the kindness of their heart," said Marshall Humphrey, meal recipient.

Organizers have other programs that promote random acts of kindness and they said they will continue giving to those in need.

"It really doesn't matter what their economic situation is, the bottom line is they're people in need," said Hill.

Although the feed is once a month, volunteers will serve again on Dec. 25th at 11 a.m.

To learn more about the charity, click here.


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