For the Reporter
Set-up began shortly after 4:30 a.m. in the dim light outside the front door of Kent’s Casa d’ Dios Church at the intersection of Bridges Avenue and Russell Street.
On a cold, damp Saturday morning a handful of young men began unloading a charcoal grill and coolers filled with more than 400 pieces of chicken that had been marinating in a special Pacific-Islander family recipe.
The fifth annual Homeless Outreach Event of the Lord Riderz Christian Car Club on Dec. 7 was underway.
By 7 a.m. nearly two dozen volunteers began arriving with shelter canopies, warming fires, propane stoves, tables and chairs, piping hot homemade chicken noodle soup in 15-gallon pots, fresh dinner rolls, Polynesian rice, potato salad, coffee from Starbucks, and more than 20 dozen doughnuts. At the same time, vehicles began lining up to drop off bags of clothing, shoes, boots, backpacks, blankets, toiletries and nearly 200 care packages that had been donated, sorted and assembled in the week before the event.
“We distributed leaflets the night before, along with some hot cheeseburgers, inviting folks to come-by starting at 9 a.m. But some of them showed up earlier than that, and we were ready for them,” said Dre Perez, president of Lord Riderz. “By 9 o’clock things were popping, the warming fires were dancing. We had the Christmas music going, and our folks couldn’t help but smile at the opportunity to share a blessing.”
While more than 150 people were served at the event, two vehicles canvassed other areas in downtown handing out food and supplies to those in need. By 2 p.m., all the food was gone, and arrangements had been made to share remaining clothes with other nonprofit organizations serving the homeless in Kent, Auburn and Federal Way.
Sam Pace, who volunteers on the board, explained that “Lord Riderz started out as a car club, and was doing successful car shows in downtown. But Dre Perez saw it as an opportunity to bring car enthusiasts together to make a difference in the community. So, the annual car show in August became a charity fundraising event, and the proceeds are used for homeless outreach like this event, back-to-school backpacks for disadvantaged kids, and to send middle and high school students to summer camp on scholarship, because without some help they would never have that opportunity.
‘Today, more than half the people drawn to the car club don’t have a low-rider or a classic car. Instead, they are drawn by the opportunity to make a difference helping people. Many of them know each other through a network of churches in the Hispanic community. The don’t give of their time and resources because they have much. Instead of giving out of excess, they give their essence, and in the process serve as an example for their children,” Pace said.
“We want to make a difference that matters,” Perez said, “and we take our encouragement from Romans 8:31 (‘If God is for us, Who can ever be against us?’).”
Learn more about the club at lordriderz831.com.