BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) For the 24th straight year, Buffalo Pastor Eric Johns is living on the streets with the homeless. Snow or no snow, the pastor said this week is one of his favorite weeks of the year.
"Being a pastor in the city, and being able to call a lot of the people living on the streets, my friends, after two decades of doing this, has really enabled us to help people in a greater way," said Johns.
The annual pilgrimage raises awareness about the plight of the homeless in Western New York.
The pastor is joined by his two sons and two nephews. They spent the first night on Monday, under an overpass on Exchange Street near the train station, downtown. "It was a good way to get out of the weather and the wind. It was a little bit of a warmer place," he added.
Johns will spend the week at soup kitchens, the bus station, parks, and other places where the homeless live.
Johns told us one thing that has changed over the years, is that agencies, ministries and organizations that work with the homeless, are working together, better than ever.
"We all have different strengths, and we're able to help people more than ever before."
The pastor's week on the streets also raises awareness about Boxes of Love, a Christmas campaign with a goal of giving food to more than 3,000 families at the holidays. The campaign will also distribute thousands of wrapped Christmas gifts to needy children.
"We are going to give food to about three thousand families this Christmas, and we're going to wrap brand new toys for about five thousand kids. This is bigger than we ever imagined," added Johns.
About a thousand volunteers help out at the Buffalo Dream Center on Masten Avenue in Buffalo to pack food, or distribute Boxes of Love in Buffalo and
The Buffalo Dream Center helps families all year long. At Christmas time they like to do a little extra to help the families that are struggling.
If you would like to volunteer or support the effort, or if you need help, visit the BuffaloDreamCenter.org.