STAR-BULLETIN / NOVEMBER 2004
About 600 meals were shared during Sharon Black's 2004 Thanksgiving of Hope at Bethel and Hotel streets, with volunteers from local organizations serving donated food.
Feeder of unfortunate will host a turkey dinner
Sharon Black says she used to cry herself to sleep after walking the New York City streets as a homeless child, smelling the cooking and hearing the families gathering for a special holiday dinner.
She vowed to herself: "I was going to make a difference. I know what it's like not to have a home. ... I don't know how many nights I spent cold, hungry and scared. That's the one dream I wouldn't let go of: that I was going to make a difference."
For the past 20 years, Black has been trying to make a difference every Saturday afternoon by feeding the homeless at Gateway Park in Chinatown. This Saturday will be different because she's offering a full turkey dinner.
Every year the lines of homeless grow longer, and this year she expects to feed 600 to 800 people at the Thanksgiving feast, which will be served from 1 p.m. "until the food is gone," she said. "Somehow, some way" Black manages to pull together enough food donations to carry the dinner off.
But she still is in need of about 15 tables and 30 chairs, and several pup tents, so people can eat comfortably. She has enough volunteer food servers, but other organizations can help out just like the American Red Cross, which is giving snacks and toiletries. Fast-food outlets are welcome to distribute food certificates so the hungry can get something to eat when the holiday handouts are over, Black said.
She is also looking for entertainers to perform, and for sound equipment. Call her at 398-6665.
How does the Honolulu Police Department civilian employee (she's a crisis- intervention counselor) manage this on her wages?
"With a little help from my friends," Black said, which includes about 15 members of Norma Acob's motorcycle riders, "Dangerous Curves of Hawaii." They have cooked 25 turkeys for the past five years. "This year I'm going to make 30 (turkeys)," added Acob, vice president of Commodities Forwarders Inc., a perishable freight company, which also assists the cause.
A few churches and the Hawaii Foodbank chip in to make her lunches possible every week, an undertaking Black has dubbed the "Kau Kau Wagon."
Her venture has grown tremendously since she began her outreach began as the "Little Red Wagon." Black used to cart food supplies in her son Chez's toy wagon to make 30 to 40 sandwiches and a few gallons of juice. Now, she makes 500 sandwiches and 15 gallons of juice per week.
The homeless aren't the only ones lining up for food, Black said. Older folks on fixed incomes are joining the queue in increasing numbers.
"I don't turn anybody away; it's nonconditional. If you're hungry and you're in that line," that's all that matters, she said.