Fifteen years ago, Barry Walker served meals to homeless people in need and told his friends about it. Now, people are following in his footsteps through Gobble Gobble Give in cities across the country, including Santa Monica, New York, and Las Vegas, and he expects more to come.
Last year, volunteers in eight cities collectively sent out more than 10,000 meals.
Walker describes the organization as a potluck party where they do not eat the food. Volunteers from communities around the country help prepare and deliver meals to homeless people in their respective areas.
“I gave meals to people I see every day on the street,” said Walker. “I had a couple of friends who said ‘Let’s do that next year…’ and so the year went on, and these people came to me and said ‘Do you want to do that again?’ and I was like, ‘Oh yeah! Yeah, sure,’ and so it was from the very beginning it was the community coming to me.”
Every year, preparation starts earlier, and Walker hopes to eventually make it a year-round event.
The first volunteers arrive at 10 am on Thanksgiving morning and the last ones leave at 1 pm. They heat up the food, package it, along with toiletries and other needed products, and send them off in their cars, or sometimes on foot.
At the Santa Monica location, based out of Walker’s business Raven Spa at 208 Pier Avenue, willing volunteers line up outside around the block. The event was made to last three hours so that people could help their community and still be able to spend Thanksgiving with their family.
This year will be the fifth year when their second location in New York first started helping Harlem’s homeless out of the Church of the Intercession, feeding thousands each time.
“When it’s over, I think it’s surreal… The smoke has cleared and there’s no more food left,” said the founder of the organization that feeds more people every year.
Each location does the same thing, but in their own way. In Los Angeles, many of the people the people deliver food by car and cover more ground. In New York, much of the feeding is done at the church, and is done on a bigger scale.
The yearly “potluck party” is open to anyone who wants to participate. People contribute many different kinds of food. Some people bake their meals. Others deliver bags of chips.
“The idea is that it’s thought out food,” Walker said. “It’s something that somebody enjoys making, they make it with love, and they make a lot of it.”
Some people who cannot contribute food are given turkeys to cook, so everyone who participates is able to contribute in one way or another.
Walker hopes to expand Gobble Gobble Give and not only feed more people, but start a network within the community of people who are willing to help. He wants to have self-sustaining businesses open up that are run by the homeless population in Los Angeles. He told The Mirror that he has figured out how to efficiently do this, and simply needs more money.
“It’s definitely doable. We’ve already proven that it works,” said Walker. “We just need a little bit of gas to go into the machine.”
For anyone who wants to get involved, visit www.gobblegobblegive.org.