CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Everyone has seen a homeless person but how often do you really “see” them?
Many times you walk or drive past and go about your day but an area couple couldn’t ignore the problem. Their dedication makes them Angels Among Us.
It’s another Monday night and the Canteen Run is ready to roll. The sandwich bags are made and clothing bins packed.
Tonight’s volunteers get their instructions before they meet the guests. It’s a well oiled machine that didn’t exist until Barb Davies stepped up at meeting about how to help the homeless.
“Before I raised my hand to volunteer, that’s the thing that went through my head,” she remembered. “I needed to get out there.”
The Salvation Army had this truck, but needed a driver to reach the people on the streets. Barb knew just the guy, her husband Dan.
“My wife said, ‘Yeah, my husband will be happy to do that.’”
The Canteen Run was born. It started out once a week and just in the winter. The truck and its volunteers would drive around Champaign-Urbana looking for people who needed food and warm clothing.
Then they decided the winter is just not enough. Eleven years later, the Davies’ make sure the truck is running four times a week year round.
“They’ve hit the bottom,” said Dan Davies. “They’ve been thrown out of their homes. Lost their jobs. They have no self worth. They literally drinking themselves to death. They need to talk. They need to be heard and they need some friends.”
To Barb Davies, they’re just people.
“They’re just people who are down on their luck.”
She’s not about to look the other way. She’s constantly on the phone drumming up donations and recruiting volunteers, like Pat Duzan who’s been out here for eight years.
“I just like to know that I’m helping those that are less fortunate than I am,” Duzan said.
She calls the Davies an inspiration.
“They have a heart for the homeless. They are the Canteen Run and that’s all there is to it.”
Don Todd has used the service for years.
“They care. They really care.”
And it shows every time the truck stops.
“We see these people. We get to know them,” said Dan Davies. “We develop a relationship with them. You begin to care about them. They’re family you know and you want to help them.”
The couple knows they can’t get every guest off the street, but while they’re on them, the Canteen Run will make it just a little bit easier.
“Even if we can help one person it’s worth it.”
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