FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne barber Lewis King gives a lot more than a shave and a haircut at his shop at 502-A East Pontiac St. He and a team of volunteers load up baskets with food and other necessities to spread holiday cheer to those in need.
“I am a servant of the Lord,” said King. “This all started about five years ago when I started having bible study at my shop. We got together and prayed about how we could help people. God said feed my people. So that’s what I have been called to do. This is my ministry.”
King calls his ministry King’s Barbershop Community Outreach. When it first started the group collected enough food to distribute 50 baskets to those in need.
Now it is up to 300.
“Some people just show up at the door of the barbershop in tears. They’re asking for items such as coats such as food. It is a blessing to be able to help them out.”
In addition to helping some people who literally walk up to his front door, King works with service agencies like the Boys and Girls Clubs to make sure those in need get food for Christmas and throughout the year.
“We partner with about 20 agencies and they come in the week before Christmas and get the items. We have a truck load of meat that comes. We also have produce that comes a day before. We have volunteers. We partner with schools and youth. They’ll come in and help put the baskets together.”
Don and Evelyn Merino are two of many volunteers who help King carry out his ministry.
“I’m from Belgium but I lived in California for a long time and we moved here and retired and we would ask why are we in Fort Wayne?,” said Evelyn. “This is why we’re in Fort Wayne. I want to help and that’s my calling.”
Her husband shares that sentiment.
“Church is wonderful but usually you’re just sitting in a pew listening to the pastor and then you go home and you have this desire to do something for people but you don’t have the means. This is it.”
King’s Community Outreach extends far beyond the barbershop walls at Pontiac and Warsaw.
“We work with veterans. We work with expectant mothers,” said King. “We put kits together and walk around and hand them out. We have ladies making quilts all over the city. I have customers in the barber shop who get hair cuts and bring items in. Donations also come from churches and others who support the outreach. Social service agencies help determine which families and individuals are most in need.
“This is just a community effort.”
Of course as a barber, King must find time to keep his clippers clipping. His work, his ministry, his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary and being a vicar at Holy Cross Lutheran Church keep his hands full. The strength to do it all lies in his faith.
“I take no credit,” said King. “All praises go to God and doing whatever he’s called us to do. As long as resources are coming in and as long as volunteers are coming we’ll be doing this so we can make a Christ like difference in this world.
King’s baskets will be distributed the weekend before Christmas. For more information on the Community Outreach program call 260-745-3650.