Shortly after Brenda Smith arrived in Orange County 5 1/2 years ago, she began cooking food for homeless people who congregated near Newport Pier and later drove throughout Orange County, Long Beach and into Los Angeles to deliver food she picked up at food banks.
Although Smith would give credit to God and people along the way who have helped her, she had mostly accomplished her mission alone. But this Christmas season she is asking for your help.
“I'm in desperate need of some toys to distribute to over 300 families with children that I've been feeding throughout six years this year,” Smith writes in an email.
“I feel so awful that I can't meet their needs doing this holiday season. I'm 62 years old [and have been] doing it at my own expense, but now I need help.”
If you can help her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smith's mother had cooked for the needy and homeless in the Modesto area for years, but at age 80 she asked her daughter Brenda to take over. Brenda started by cooking for people she found living under freeways, along other roads and near the San Joaquin Valley Delta and eventually expanded to get food to the hungry throughout Modesto, Turlock and Ceres.
After moving to Orange County, she initially began cooking for the needy and homeless, but the job because so big that she eventually left the kitchen behind to solely pick up goods at food banks, call point people to say she was coming to individual drop-off points and then deliver the food. Smith created a nonprofit called Feeding in Motion.
One day, as Smith gassed up at a Long Beach filling station, she was approached by a woman who asked why her car was filled with food. Smith explained her story and that led to the woman nominating the charity giver for a People's Choice Award at the 2016 Senior Care Hero Awards gala Oct. 15 at the Grove in Anaheim. Smith's two sisters drove 300 miles to watch her accept the award.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.