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Volunteer group helping to feed York's homeless

John A. Pavoncello
The York Dispatch

One York man's desire to give back and help his community has turned into a rapidly growing volunteer effort to feed the homeless. 

York Giving Helping Hands is a group of volunteers, organized through social media, who have been collecting donations and providing food to York City's homeless and less fortunate each weekend.

The group, started by Javan Matthews, has been setting up in the parking lot adjacent to Rabbit Transit's York Transfer Station on West King Street, along the Heritage Rail Trail, each weekend for the past five weeks, serving food to those who might go hungry otherwise. 

York Giving Helping Hands Volunteers  Tina Sweeley, left, Alysia Moore, both of York, Kathy Arnold of Manchester and Sierra Sauble of North York, right, dish up meals for York's homeless and under-privileged along the Rail Trail in the city, Sunday, August 18,  2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

"I've been here, I've been homeless," Matthews said. His desire to help his community led him to Facebook, where he asked on a community page where he could donate pizza to help feed the homeless. A volunteer group was quickly organized, including Matthews, Natalie Place, Cynthia White and others.

In the following weeks, York Giving Helping Hands has grown to the point of feeding almost 200 people each Saturday and Sunday. 

"We've always thought of doing this," said Place, of York Township. "(Matthews) made the post, and we all met him to help give out the pizza, and here we are, five weeks later." 

Alex Jones, of Lewisberry, manned the grill Sunday, Aug. 19, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on his first day of volunteering. Alongside him, Michael Gurreri, of Spring Garden Township, who has been volunteering since the first weekend, helped keep the grill full. Like Matthews, Gurreri said he was homeless at one time. 

York Giving Helping Hands volunteers Michael Gurreri, left of Spring Garden, and Alex Jones of Lewsiberry, grill hotdogs for York's homeless and under-privileged along the Rail Trail in the city, Sunday, August 18,  2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating food to the group should reach them via the York Giving Helping Hands Facebook page.

The volunteers plan on continuing to set up from noon to 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday as long as they can, except for Aug. 25 and 26, when YorkFest will be happening.