The Good Samaritan
Former homeless man now feeds street people in Ocho Rios
For Charles Simpson, the season of giving lasts all year round, and as such, the street people in the St Ann resort town of Ocho Rios can expect to see the former homeless man bringing them meals at least once per day several times each week throughout the 12 months of the year.
Simpson has been able to accomplish this with the help of several corporate citizens in the town.
Four years ago when he started feeding the street people, Simpson single-handedly funded the initiative by selling his car and using the money to buy supplies.
However, when those funds were exhausted Simpson turned to the business community for help.
"Without them (businesses) I don't know where I would be," he told the Jamaica Observer North East during a recent interview.
Having lived on the streets himself, the 69-year-old Simpson knows what it is to go hungry.
And this is what has kept his initiative going as he seeks to ensure that the homeless have a hot meal at least once each day.
Simpson makes it his duty to walk the streets of Ocho Rios and provide food for persons who are now in a position that he once knew so well.
"I walk from uptown to downtown and feed them," he said.
He added, "A foodie dem call me; anytime dem see me they expect to get food."
Simpson said he is extremely grateful to the business community for helping to put a warm meal in the stomachs of the numerous homeless persons in the town.
"I am very grateful that they are able to assist me to keep my feeding programme going. I was once on the street and I know what it is to be hungry," Simpson said.
Simpson highlighted the Golden Loaf Bakery, Blingers Furniture and Jewellery Store, Mikey Food Store, Master Mac, Delapenha Funeral Home, Coastline Meat and Grocery as businesses which have been very supportive of the programme.
He also expressed appreciation to attorney-at-law Linton Gordon, who has been supporting the feeding programme for several years now.
"I want to say a big thank you to them. A big thank you to Mikey from Mikey Food Store who assist with food boxes," Simpson said.
He explained that the proprietor of Mikey Food Store has also assisted him in getting at least five homeless persons off the street.
"He has been a great help and him do it willingly," he added.
Simpson also applauded the assistance given by the proprietor of Golden Loaf Bakery, who donates clothing for the homeless.
The business also provides him with pastries which often serve as a second meal for the day for those on the streets.
While Simpson has been receiving assistance from several businesses, he has not been able to feed the large number of people as before. As a result, he continues to ask for assistance. Simpson, who takes care of himself through the assistance of his children, said persons do not have to give him financial assistance.
"People who want to help them don't have to give me financial assistance. They can just give me food items, food boxes," he said, adding, "That way they don't have to fear me taking their money."
Simpson who now feeds 25 to 30 persons daily believes that if the assistance is given, he may be able to go back to feeding up to 70 persons in and outside of Ocho Rios.
Although ill and facing several challenges himself, Simpson says he intends to continue the feeding programme as long as he can.
"As long as I live I intend to continue the programme," he insisted.