Sunday, August 28, 2011

Free Bread to Help in these Economic Times

On any given Saturday, the 46-year-old Joseph ‘Jimmy’ Lewis picks up bread and other donated items from a local Vons early in the morning and fills the cabin of his white Denali and takes it to the streets. He starts his ‘bread run’ throughout Altadena, Pasadena, and Los Angeles.

When his grandfather Isaac Walker took it upon himself to feed the local homeless 13 years ago he didn’t anticipate that his grandson, a known gangbanger, would one day succeed him.

But in 2008, that once-troubled grandson, Joseph ‘Jimmy’ Lewis, discovered that taking the baton from his aging grandfather and helping the needy has become not just a passion but a way to help out in this hard economic times.

From the local Vons, he drives to local churches, community centers, gas stations, and to the McDonald’s parking lot at Historic Filipino Town, where he distributes the items to anyone who asks.

On this particular Saturday, a group of Filipino-American World War II veterans and their family members converge at the back cabin of his white Denali to get free bread, cookies, and a cake.

Lewis says it is his way of being part of the solution to the pressing economy. Jimmy has now stepped up and relieve his grandfather in distributing the food, the latter who is now in his 90’s.

Jimmy has a special feeling for the Filipino-American World War II veterans. His grandfather Isaac, served with the Tuskegee Airmen 332nd Air Wing, and was stationed in the Philippine Islands during the war. He met his wife Pilar, Jimmy’s grandmother, in the Philippines. Grandma Pilar comes from the big city of Iloilo in Western Visayas.

On this particular Saturday, he urges the gathering crowd at the parking lot of the McDonald’s on the corner of Temple and Alvarado Streets to ‘take as much as you need’.

A lady joins the crowd as Jimmy hands her a full loaf of bread. She asks if the bread is really free. As it turned out, the lady is new to Los Angeles, moving in from Florida. She cannot believe it at first. It was a good welcome for her to ‘the city of Angels.’