year 2, week 7: this week i'm gonna... spread love (and sandwiches!)
People tell Allan Law he is crazy. His response? "When you see a need, you address it.”
On any given night there are an estimated 7,000 homeless people in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, and Law's goal is to feed them all. He volunteers his time overnight because that is when shelters are closed and people living on the street are most vulnerable. Law delivers over 1,600 sandwiches a night, and he never skips a night -- not even Christmas. His apartment houses 17 large freezers that hold sandwiches (no bed necessary, because he never spends a night at home). If he has time, he grabs a quick nap in his car.
“The only days I’ve missed delivering sandwiches were [in March 2013] when I was having surgery for prostate cancer,” Law states. Even then, despite the frustration of his nurses, he sneaked out of the hospital at night to deliver sandwiches while wearing his nightgown and slippers.
Law doesn't only deliver sandwiches. He delivers clothes, bus tokens, mittens, baby formula, blankets, socks, and money for medical co-pays. He responds to several phone calls a day from people in crisis, with requests ranging from critical immediate needs, to others like help finding a job or temporary housing. He is available 24/7 to the people in need in his community, and most of them know him by name.
“He really thinks ahead of the needs of people. He’s very familiar with the homeless population,” said a shelter worker. “I think in many ways he helps people stay alive in the cold.”
Love One Another is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization serving the homeless and disadvantaged population in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Every night from 9pm to 10am, Founder Allan Law (who does not receive a salary) drives throughout the community providing food assistance and other emergency needs to people in homeless shelters and on the street. Nicknamed 'The Sandwich Man', Law makes as many as 50 stops a night, distributing donated sandwiches, basic necessities, and encouragement from the back of the Love One Another minivan.
Love One Another operates three core programs: Youth Builder, Samaritans Outreach, and 363 Days Food.
- Youth Builder strives to constructively occupy middle school-aged kids' time, and also supplies things like clothes, books, backpacks, and funds for field trips.
- Samaritans Outreach provides resources for coats, hats, boots, and socks in winter. They also give referrals for chemical dependency, housing, job placement, and health care.
- 363 Days Food refers to the sandwich and food delivery described above. The number '363' refers to every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas, when many other organizations offer meals.
You can watch a brief overview of Law's story and Love One Another in the video below.
Law's spirit of giving stems from his career as a teacher. When he retired, he developed an idea to offer youngsters a productive way to spend their time after school, weekends, and summers. That grew into the Youth Builder program, and 363 Days Food and Samaritans Outreach soon followed.
Wherever and however Law can help, he will. Between all three programs, his waking hours are filled. Though he currently has arthritis and battled prostate cancer in 2013, he hasn’t let his medical issues (or anything else) stop him. “I work [at least] 18 hours a day, everyday,” he says. “[Many] organizations offer meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They can have those two days. We’ll handle the other 363 days of the year.”
Law has been recognized by three presidents and has received countless awards, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Gold Medallion presented at the U.S. Supreme Court. Law went to Washington, D.C., to accept that award but returned without visiting the White House because he needed to get back to the people he helps in Minneapolis. He also didn’t accept a McKnight Foundation Human Service award in person because he didn’t want to leave the people he helps, even for one day.
When Law was asked by a Minneapolis magazine why he cares so much, he was silent. Then he teared up. “I just do,” he finally said.
Notes for this week:
- February 14th is Valentine's Day! The perfect day to spread some love.
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor the distribution of approximately 1,500 sandwiches.
- You can watch Allan Law's story in the Netflix documentary The Starfish Throwers.
- For more information regarding Love One Another, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Love One Another.