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In the neighborhood: Group of church members supply food from pop-up soup kitchen on Northside

 

Charles Clemmons and Eddy Scott give sandwiches to Karter Lucious, 2, Kharli Brown, 4, and Khloe Petty, 6. Karter's parents are Kentrail Lucious and Ashley Smith. Kharli's parents are Lavoris Brown and Ashley Smith. Khloe's parents are Billy Petty Jr. and Ashley Smith.

Charles Clemmons and Eddy Scott give sandwiches to Karter Lucious, 2, Kharli Brown, 4, and Khloe Petty, 6. Karter's parents are Kentrail Lucious and Ashley Smith. Kharli's parents are Lavoris Brown and Ashley Smith. Khloe's parents are Billy Petty Jr. and Ashley Smith. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

Shannon Scott delivers sandwiches and chips to Overa Jones at her home on 14th Avenue Monday.

Shannon Scott delivers sandwiches and chips to Overa Jones at her home on 14th Avenue Monday.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

Willie

Willie "Sweet" Scott gives Korey Harris, 13, a sandwich and chips on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. Korey is the son of Boris and Natalie Harris. Scott and some of his fellow church members serve food in the neighborhood one afternoon per week.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

Shannon Scott gives Leon Brewer a sandwich on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. A different member of the group supplies the food each week.

Shannon Scott gives Leon Brewer a sandwich on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. A different member of the group supplies the food each week.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Isabelle Altman

 

 

The 4-year-old girl peering over the table laid out with sandwiches, chips and bottles of water had only one question for the men manning the food stand on 14th Avenue North Monday afternoon: How much? 

 

"It's free, baby," Willie "Sweet" Scott assured her and her two siblings as he and his friend Charles Clemmons made sure each child had a sandwich and a bag of chips. 

 

Clutching their snacks, the three children shuffled back to their mother who was waiting in a car a few feet away and who smiled and waved at Scott and Clemmons. 

 

"She asked, 'How much is it?'" Clemmons said. "Ain't that something? Grown folks don't even do that." 

 

Clemmons would know. He, Scott and Scott's brother Eddy have been setting up shop on the corner of 14th Avenue and 20th Street North -- just down the street from the Boys and Girls Club -- to give out free food to people on Monday afternoons for a few months now. 

 

"It was set up kind of for the kids, but we don't turn away (any)body," Clemmons said. "I wouldn't want to miss somebody, tell somebody, 'No you're too old.' That may be his only meal. People (are) hungry sometimes coming through the neighborhood." 

 

The three men, along with their friend Robert Cunnings, all attend United Christian Baptist Church. Last fall, the four of them came up with the idea of preparing and serving food to people in the community after Eddy Scott said he wanted to start a soup kitchen. 

 

"It kind of started out with just talking," Eddy Scott said. "And the idea, we said, 'We can do this.' We just had the opportunity to help somebody that may be hungry. We turn down nobody. We're just doing what we feel led to do. 

 

"We just try to be a blessing because we've been blessed," he added. "That's what it truly is." 

 

The men set up shop outside Clemmons' restaurant on 14th Avenue, with the added benefit that in cold weather they can keep food warm in the restaurant oven and they can step inside if it rains. Each man takes turns preparing food for the week. They fund it from their own pockets, Clemmons said, but they often receive a few dollars in donations from people who stop by to get food. 

 

Though Clemmons now lives in a different part of Columbus, he said he was born on 21st Street, just off 14th Avenue, and grew up in the area, graduating from Hunt High School. He still knows a lot of the residents, particularly the elderly. 

 

"This is my neighborhood," he said. 

 

The group sets up a stand on Mondays from 3-5 p.m. where they give away soups, sandwiches, hot dogs or whatever food they've prepared that week. They try to make enough for 50 people, which is usually about the number they get, Clemmons said. They've intentionally timed it to when children are getting home from school. 

 

"We want to catch these school kids," Clemmons said.  

 

But they also catch the children's parents, neighborhood residents, workers on their way home and regulars, Clemmons said. This past Monday, Eddy sent his son Shannon Scott, who has recently joined them, to take a tray of sandwiches and chips to a woman two doors down from the restaurant. The woman usually comes by, Shannon said, but she'd recently been in the hospital and was taking it easy that day. 

 

"I'm just happy to be out here doing what I can and kind of helping," Shannon Scott said. "Of course, you run into all sorts of characters. You got your ones who want something for nothing and then you've got people who come and you know they really need it. They make it all worth it." 

 

Though not an official soup kitchen, the group has become a fixture of the area. Drivers passing by their stand Monday leaned out their car windows and shouted greetings as they drove by. Everyone who greeted them was invited to take a sandwich, which resulted in the occasional turn-around, though several said they had to get home.  

 

"We're in the neighborhood now," Clemmons said.

 

 

 

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