Real home cooking for the homeless in Hamilton delivered from man's basement

Roger Boyd single-handedly launched a non-registered charity from his suburban Hamilton home to offer hot food and warm clothes to the city's homeless. He now has a new catering trailer to help.

Roger Boyd launched a non-registered charity from his suburban home offering hot food and warm clothes

Roger Boyd in his kitchen making a vat of chili for Hamilton's homeless and hungry (Ron Charles, CBC)

For a few days a week Richard Boyd's comfortable suburban Hamilton home becomes a high-octane charity hub.

In the kitchen, Boyd cooks vats of turkey soup and chili.

In the basement, volunteers including his 22-year-old son make dozens of sandwiches and wrap two large bins of donated bakery treats.

Boyd's two-car garage is fitted with warehouse shelving crammed with donations — slats of tinned tomatoes, giant multi-packs of peanut butter, jugs of cooking oil and stacks of new and used clothing.

Boyd, 53, and a handful of volunteers head out onto Hamilton's streets a few nights each week to distribute hot food and warm clothing to the city's homeless and hungry — all in their spare time.

"Between my wife and I, we've got five children, ages from 18 to 23. And we both work full time," says Boyd. "We started this together. It just went from one day to two days a week. And I'm now going out three or four days right now."

Boyd's garage overflows with donations. (Ron Charles, CBC)

Boyd's home-grown mobile soup kitchen started after his pastor challenged congregants at his church to show true charity. Boyd took that literally.

"Right there I felt God speaking to me," Boyd says. "I said to my wife, 'Janet,you know what? I'm going to go and clean out my closet when I get home. Clean out my closet and take my clothes down to the street.'"

Boyd named his effort "Men's Street Mission," though it helps both men and women. It's taken off thanks to social media where Boyd shares stories about the homeless with donors and volunteers.

A supporter started a GoFundMe campaign for a catering trailer to make food distribution easier. (Ron Charles, CBC)

One Facebook supporter launched a GoFundMe campaign raising  $12,000 toward a catering trailer for easier food distribution.

The trailer, with a sink and walk-up serving window, arrived just in time for the cold.

"She says, 'I watch you on Facebook. We should set you up a GoFundMe page and we'll help you get this trailer. We'll help you make your dream come true,'" he says.

'People in my community are so giving'

On a day before one of his street visits, Boyd exchanges several text messages with a Facebook fan he's never met. She's at a department store asking him how many coats to buy. He replies it's up to her.

The next day Sherry Gilleat-Clause shows up with several hundred dollars worth of brand new coats, boots and socks.

Boyd is ecstatic and clearly touched.

"It's overwhelming. People in my community are so giving," he says.

That night in downtown Hamilton, Boyd continued the chain of giving, handing a pair of the brand new boots to a man he's come to know as John.

Clutching his boots and a jumbo-sized Styrofoam cup of chili, John offers high praise for Boyd.

'He comes out of the goodness of his heart … Roger goes out of his way for just about anybody,"- John, Men's Street Mission client

"He comes out of the goodness of his heart. I met Roger last year. Roger was actually the gentleman who gave me this jacket," says John. "Still in really good condition a year later. Thanks to this man. We need a lot more people like Roger, because Roger goes out of his way for just about anybody." 

Nearby, volunteers inside the new catering trailer hand out soup, sandwiches and treats to a steady stream of people.

Other volunteers, wearing head lamps to help them see, hand out warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags from the piles in the cargo bed of Boyd's pickup truck.

Boyd says he occasionally digs into his own pockets to help out.

"We run in the red, but that's OK, because my wife and I, we're 100 per cent dedicated to this," says Boyd. "And we're at the point that we can't stop. We can't stop. I don't know how to turn it off."

That's good news for the people on the receiving end of Boyd's home-grown charity.