NORMAN, Okla. - Mental illness, addiction, hopelessness - there are many reasons people stumble into a life on the streets.
Tanya Clark's family was fractured years ago when alcohol abuse consumed her father, Al.
"My father was homeless for 2-3 years. He was working for the Salvation Army helping alcoholics, and I want to carry on his legacy. He was a good man," Clark said.
After her dad passed away, Clark began a special project called 'Al's Heart.'
She makes regular trips to downtown Oklahoma City, where she distributes bags full of groceries, toiletries, seasonal clothing and unconditional love.
"We talk to them. Lots of people share their stories, and we cry with them. There is a lot to be learned out there. They are people too, and they need us," Clark said.
Co-workers at Norman Healthplex nominated Clark for her tenderness to society's discarded.
"This is her way of honoring him. She knows that people out here still have a story, still human beings and they still have a purpose in life. She knows her father was a good person and just lost his way," said Gaye Schmidt. "She not only gives them bags of necessities, but she sits and talks with them. She wants to know them and find out their story and make them feel important."
Anthony Wuestenfeld with First Fidelity Bank helped us surprise Clark with $400.
"It sounds like she's doing such a great thing and such a worthy cause," he said. "For that, we want to give you $400 to Pay it 4Ward."
Clark pledges to use every penny to purchase backpacks and school supplies for 15 homeless children she's encountered along her journey.
Her mission is to give a loving hand up to those who need it most.
Clark said, by sacrificing a few meals out each month, it gives her enough money to have an impact on the homeless in Oklahoma City.