Help for Fresno's homeless came in the form of a birthday party Friday. The Fresno Rescue Mission partnered with local churches and businesses to feed hundreds and pass out new socks and shoes.
Eddie Soto's real birthday is October 8th, but he celebrated it Friday along with hundreds of other homeless in Fresno. It was outdoor barbecue with decorations, music, and plenty of birthday cake. The Fresno Rescue Mission, a Christian organization, threw the party since homeless don’t typically celebrate their birthdays. It’s also an outreach to help get them off the street.
“We have a lot of volunteers from churches that volunteer for this event. They're sitting at tables offering [homeless] help, that there's another way,” said Janet Steinhauer, who works at Fresno Rescue Mission.
This year everyone got a special gift, courtesy of Steve Smith. He's an outspoken wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers, who experienced homelessness as a child. Now he's partnering with Samaritan's Feet to hand out 500 new shoes and socks. An optional foot-washing is part of the ministry.
“He wanted to bless his hometown community so we chose Los Angeles, Fresno and we've already done San Diego,” said Phil Campbell of Samaritan’s Feet.
Soto and many others left the event with full stomachs, comfortable shoes and gratitude for those who made the difference.
Every day the Fresno Rescue Mission serves about 700 meals. It never turns anyone away.