HOUSTON (Reuters) - Dominick SeJohn Walton spots a man with a shopping cart piled high with belongings and a sign that says “Homeless. Please Help” under a Texas highway overpass. With the coronavirus keeping many at home, the road is quieter than usual.
She hands him a plastic bag filled with a baloney and cheese sandwich, cookies, and applesauce. On the outside she has written in permanent blue marker: ‘God Bless. Jesus loves you. I love you!’
Walton knows what it is like to be homeless and hungry. She is currently living mainly in her car, sleeping at her sister’s apartment in Houston sometimes.
“I started serving meals to the homeless because I understand what it’s like not to know where your next meal is going to come from and that’s the least that I feel like we can do for our community is to give back,” said the 27-year-old.
Walton’s car became her home after she became depressed following surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. She quit her job as a gas station cashier and is now living in the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, trying to save enough money to start a t-shirt business featuring her own designs. She was recently hired by a non-profit organization that distributes meals to low-income families.
In many U.S. cities, homeless people are spending their nights on empty trains, or camping behind closed businesses and under deserted highways. Many fear to enter homeless shelters, where the coronavirus can spread fast.
Walton drives around and spots a man sitting on the ground.
“Hello sir,” she calls out, her big smile hidden behind the surgical mask she wears. He does not respond, perhaps dozing, so she touches his elbow with her gloved hand to give him some food.
Walton buys the groceries herself or uses leftovers from her employer, making the bags in her sister’s apartment, where her 1-year-old and 4-year-old nieces play.
When she is done for the day, she parks her car near a mall, park, or just a quiet neighborhood, propping her cellphone against the car window while she stretches out in the front seat.
Her dreams: A t-shirt business so successful that she can give away even more food.
Reporting by Go Nakamura; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien