Photo Gallery: Central City Lutheran Mission helps homeless

SAN BERNARDINO - Roy Luther, 61, has been homeless in Las Vegas, Amarillo, Texas, and now here.

On Saturday, at least, he got new clothes, shoes and a nice warm jacket.

"It's been very cold," he said.

Luther was among 80 or so homeless men that were treated to a new wardrobe as part of an annual event at Central City Lutheran Mission.

The evening service project also included an opportunity to get a free haircut and a chance to eat a warm home-baked meal.

Central City Lutheran Mission, at 1354 N. G. St., houses people with HIV, feeds thousands of hot meals a year to anyone who is hungry, gives local school children a place to receive homework assistance, eat and play together, teaches women to sew, offers English language classes, provides medical check-ups to anyone in the neighborhood and this time of year opens its doors as an emergency shelter to some 70 men who sleep in the sanctuary.

Pulling off Saturday's event required the assistance of many volunteers. with most coming from either First Lutheran Church in Redlands or Our Savior Lutheran Church in San Bernardino, said Elisabeth Kempe-Olinger, who has organized the event for the past five years.

Among the volunteers was Alexandra Cardenas, 18, of Fontana, who helped match homeless men to the right shoe with the skill of career shoe salesperson - except she has never sold shoes before.

"Do you want dressy?" she asked one man. "Grab this one and if it doesn't fit, bring it back."

Luther ended up very happy with his white and black running shoes, following a somewhat lengthy shoe hunt made complicated because of his wide feet.

Eddie Cowart, 57, had a duffel bag of new clothes and said he was looking forward to the economy improving so he could get a job.

Yonio Villegas, 32, from Mexico, has been staying at the mission for about a week, hoping to connect with a job as a house framer.

Ruben Muriel, 46, said he was "starting over" since his father passed away. He lived as a caregiver with his father, but the house was sold after his father's death, leaving Muriel without a place to stay.

He said his new wardrobe would help him connect with a new job.


Reach Jim via email, call him at 909-386-3855, or find him on Twitter @JSteinbergsRoad.