Several years ago, Reverend Jay Ragsdale traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to help his brother, who had been living on the street in a piano box. The experience made a lasting impression on Jay and inspired him and Toni, his wife, to start feeding people in need in their new community.
Now, more than a decade later, Jay and Toni run Fill The Pot Homeless Ministry, which provides hundreds of free meals every Sunday. According to Toni, their philosophy is simple: “If you come in line and you want a hot meal, we’ll give you a hot meal.”
All great endeavors have humble beginnings. Originally, the couple would prepare meals in the back of a trailer, which they then passed out to homeless people in the same park where Jay’s brother once lived. But over the years, their mission grew and turned into the organization they have today.
The ministry, which now operates out of a leased building near the park, relies on volunteers and donations. They provide free meals to their community once a week and offer necessities to anyone in need — whether they’re homeless or not.
“A lot of people get confused, thinking we serve just the homeless, but we’re just serving anybody that wants to eat,” Ray explained. Toni added, “We don’t ask questions. We don’t say, ‘Do you have a place?’ We don’t police the food.”
After all, the entire movement is about the people in their community, and they know the food is going to those who need it in one way or another.
“Our hope is just to kind of say, ‘You matter to us,'” Toni said. “This is what we’re doing. ‘Somebody sees you. We understand there’s a need, and we’re here if you need something.'”
Jay and Toni never ask for anything in return because their reward is seeing their neighbors smile.
They have even made friends with some of the people they’ve served over the years, and nothing makes them happier than hearing the news that they got a job or something good came through for them. As for those who are still struggling, Jay and Toni will keep showing up to help them as long as they need it!
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