Four Loyola University Maryland students spend every Friday night buying cheap chicken sandwiches and feeding the homeless of Baltimore, Maryland
(Baltimore) – At a little after 3:00 PM every Friday afternoon, four Loyola University Maryland roommates begin to plan their night of what Baltimore neighborhoods they will visit and how long they will stay. The four friends, all 20-years-old, are not on the prowl for house parties or bars. They are young men on a mission to feed the homeless of Baltimore. All they bring are bottles of water to hand out, a sense of service to the less fortunate and a whole lot of $1 McChicken sandwiches.
The idea to buy cheap chicken sandwiches to hand them out to the homeless on Friday nights started by pure accident for the four men, Joshua Alexander, an economics major from Canandaigua, New York; Grant Latran, an engineering major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
William Mann, a political science major from Chicago, Illinois; and David McSchane, a biology/psychology major from Boston, Massachusetts.
“One night the four of us were in the drive-thru lane. A homeless man approached our car for money. We’re college students and basically broke. We don’t have a lot of money. We didn’t want to hand over cash. So we bought this gentleman two chicken sandwiches, for two bucks.
He was grateful. It felt good helping him. That’s exactly how the ‘The McChicken Project’ was born,” said Mr. Latran.
On the ride home the four friends became more aware of the homeless in and around the neighborhood they were in. It was on that car ride they decided to come back in a week, scrounge up as much money as they could, and deliver as many chicken sandwiches to the less fortunate as possible.
“We bought about 20 sandwiches that first Friday night. The folks behind the counter were great, even though most people don’t come in an order that many. There really wasn’t a plan. We left McDonalds and just started handing out sandwiches to the homeless. It was that
simple, yet so very rewarding. That’s when it clicked. ‘We have to do this every Friday night,’” said Mr. McShane.
Now the four college students head to the streets in and around the “Health Care for the Homeless” on Sallsway in Baltimore, in the shadow of US Interstate 83, approximately one mile from the Inner Harbor. They will now call ahead to a McDonalds and order 40-to-60 one-dollar chicken sandwiches and pick up a few cases of bottled water.
Armed with their food and drinks by 4:00 PM, the four friends now spend every Friday night feeding the homeless until they basically run out. A typical run of handing out sandwiches will last about two hours, sometimes longer in warmer weather, sometimes shorter in colder times. In addition to sandwiches and water, blankets are given out in the winter.
“A really heartbreaking night was when a father and his two very young sons asked for food. The one little boy couldn’t have been a day over six or seven years old. They were leaving a homeless shelter. My dad grew up in extreme poverty. It really hit home for me, that there’s
still good people out there that just might need a little bit of help. I’ll never forget that family. That memory drives me to help as much as I can,” added Mr. Alexander.
The four friends at first informally reached out to their parents for donations to buy sandwiches for the homeless. When those funds started to run out, a website was created to increase awareness of helping the less fortunate: www.mcchickenproject.com. So far online donations
through the website’s PayPal account totaled about $2,000 over the past year.
There is no formal or official connection to the fast food chain. The goal is to potentially spread “The McChicken Project” to colleges and universities across the country, no different than a fraternity or sorority.
“It’s great that students go out and have a great time on a Friday night. We are young. That’s a part of what college is all about. I get it. But we also have an opportunity and obligation to take this time to find out ‘who we are’ and what we will become.”
“I can tell you this: I just feel better helping others. Isn’t that what ‘it’ is all about? Using our time, gifts and talents to serve others. We’re not saving the world handing out chicken sandwiches on Friday nights. But we are doing our best, making our little corner of the world in
Baltimore a better place to live,” said Mr. Mann.