Panhandlers in safety vests fundraising for ministry
OKLAHOMA CITY — You’ve probably seen them at major intersections all over town in safety vests, weaving through cars to get to donations which come few and far between. They say their first obstacle is just getting that window rolled down.
Terrance Hunter uses his way with words to prove he’s trustworthy, because he says sometimes people are unsure where their money is going.
“Sometimes they say no. Sometimes they say I want to check it out,” says Hunter. “Do you have a website and I`m like sure, Google us, Bing us, ask us, do whatever you have to do!”
He tries to make friends at every intersection, but if it’s a no, he brushes it off and tries again.
“People just don`t know,” says Hunter. “So our thing is to just keep pushing and keep pushing and keep pushing.”
The pastor and founder of Oklahoma’s Saved by Grace Ministries understands why cars passing by would think twice about giving to his followers.
“I know now today there is just so much fraud going on,” says Barnes. “Everybody`s leery about giving, but I would like to say to our community every dime that is donated comes to the ministry and it is used for the bettering of the people. Nothing else.”
They appreciate the donations but their main priority is to hand out their fliers. They’re small, with a lot of information that leads you to this small house that puts a roof over seven heads. They all have a story.
“They suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, from homelessness, abandonment,” says Barnes. “They’ve had life issues, coming out of prison and nowhere to go. We are very small right now but we intend to grow as the people come.”
Pastor Barnes says they’re door is always open for anyone working towards a better life, free of charge. They’ll take anyone from anywhere.
“We send Greyhound bus tickets to people who call that are out of state,” says Barnes. “Every time we travel we pass our fliers out in different cities and different states.”
To stay afloat they fund raise.
“It`s going towards food. It`s going towards rent,” says Barnes. “It`s going towards transportation and gas. It`s paying the utility bills and the water bills.”
Barnes says the money from the buckets has helped him secure this small sanctuary, where he works with his followers for nine months.
“Once they graduate we don`t just throw them out. We don`t throw them out to the wolves,” says Barnes. “We continue to assist them because we want them to eventually become productive citizens of society.”
As a recovered addict himself, Barnes says he knows what his men are going through.
Barnes has legal paperwork that secured their non-profit status, and says he’s ready to show it to anyone who has any doubts about where there money is going.