ANDERSON — Billy Grant hooked his cellphone to the generator, trying to get enough of a charge to call his wife and see where she was before enjoying a hot meal of chili mac, homemade bread and cookies, using the lid of a trash barrel as his table.
Just before, he had received some dog food from the volunteers with the Rude Boyz Motorcycle Club for his pit bull mix dogs, Envy and Athena.
Grant, whose wife was able to find a place in a shelter that helps only women, is one of countless people living on the streets of Anderson at the onset of the cold season. He has been homeless for about five months.
“I wasn’t really getting many hours at work,” he said.
Grant was one of dozens of people helped Saturday by the Rude Boyz Chicks in the park in front of the old train depot on 14th Street. The Chicks is the auxiliary for the 15-member motorcycle club, which is made up mostly of men.
The effort to help the homeless is one of many by local individuals and organizations.
Leah Fuller said the Rude Boyz Motorcycle Club was started about a year ago by her husband and his friends out of their garage. She said the men started the registered not-for-profit not only to enjoy their motorcycles but to serve the community, especially the homeless and veterans, something they believed other similar clubs did not do.
“They don’t do what we do,” she said. “They like to ride, but they also wanted to help the community, and a lot of the other guys don’t do that.”
The club has been out over the past four weekends and expects to be out through the cold weather to help the homeless by feeding them warm meals, giving them clothing and blankets and handing out backpacks filled with hygiene products and other essentials, Fuller said. The motorcycle enthusiasts also deliver firewood to tent cities, she said.
“Even if you have a house and have a fireplace, we’ll give you wood,” she said.
The Rude Boyz Chicks sets up at different areas each week, including the Anderson Public Library and tent cities where homeless people live.
“We just find places to feed them, and they come. You just know you’re doing good,” she said. “They are getting to know us and recognize us on the street. We’ve had guys come up to us and tell us what they need.”
The Pendleton native said her interest in helping those less fortunate comes through her upbringing in the German Baptist church, which is similar to the Mennonite Church.
“My mom has always taught me to give,” she said. “I know what it’s like to struggle. If it wasn’t for my church or my family, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.”
Their weekend giveaways have seen many repeat customers. And those who seek help need it for a variety of situations, such as a man who attended church every Sunday but needed some decent suits, Fuller said.
Some people have commented to her that helping the homeless is simply helping drug addicts and alcoholics, Fuller said.
“The way we feel is it doesn’t matter how they got in that situation. They need help,” she said. “I’m going to continue to do this. I feel that is what the community needs at this point.”
Fuller said she’s roped her grandchildren into volunteering and already has seen changes in their attitudes.
“Some of these people don’t have the TVs and game systems they have,” she said.
No stranger to helping out, local volunteer Byvonda Hendrix was on hand to deliver goods and serve meals to the homeless people.
“I’m here ‘cause we’re giving back to the homeless ‘cause we care,” she said. “Anybody can be in this situation.”