Love of God is a non-church-affiliated, Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization providing home-cooked meals, clothing and toiletries to homeless men, women and children. The organization works in Los Angeles and Orange County with eight projects that serve up to 750 people per project.
"Since 2001, we have provided nutritious, hot meals to thousands of men, women and children with dignity and compassion," said founder William Gray. "By the grace of a loving God and through the generous support of our volunteers and community partners we are able to serve our people."
Gray, who from 1994 to 2000 was homeless himself, founded the organization as a way to give back in a non-judgmental way. "When I was homeless, people from churches would come out to give us food and we were always grateful, but many times in order to get the food you would have to sit through a 45-minute sermon or something like that. My God doesn't say that it should be that way. But I promised God that if he got me out of that situation, sleeping on rooftops, eating food out of the garbage, that I would be obedient and return the favor to my community."
Gray pays for the organization's efforts from his own pocket, including cooking all of the food that feeds the people in need. Every Friday night Love of God gives out food to the homeless at 5th and San Julian streets from 9 to 11 p.m.
"It has gotten to the point where people have begun to depend on this food," said Gray. "They are lined up all the way down the street before we even arrive." Last week Love of God began also began passing out lunches at different locations throughout the city and has now begun providing service to senior residents in the community who would otherwise go without a hot meal. The organization is continuing to expand its efforts by building a food pantry to accommodate the growing needs of the community.
Love of God recently fed 750 people on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles on Independence Day. Normally the organization feeds an average of 200-300 on a weekly basis, but felt that it was especially important to increase the numbers this year, because of so many families that have fallen upon hard times. "It would have easily been a thousand if we hadn't run out of food," said Gray.
The organization also does huge feasts of this nature for every holiday and hopes to feed a thousand people for Labor Day.
In addition to that effort, Love of God will also hold a backpack giveaway on Sept. 1. The backpacks will be filled with school supplies and are free to those in need.
Donations can be made to the organization in the form of food, money, or even time. Gray explained that he is asking members of the community to donate $10 so that more backpacks can be purchased to accommodate high school students as well. Help would also be appreciated from those who would be willing to help assemble and distribute the backpacks, and the food for the Labor Day food giveaway.
For more information on the organization and to make donations, visit the website at www.theloveofgodfhp.org