Cooking up fresh meals for the homeless is his calling

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CHICAGO — For the past seven years, Michael Airhart has started nearly every morning by packing his car with a grill and as many coolers of food as he can squeeze in.

Unlike shelters that often only have sandwiches to pass out, Airhart serves up pork chops, burgers, gyros and even steak hot off the grill to those who could use a good meal the most.

"Just because you're homeless, doesn't mean you're not human. You still crave good food and deserve to have a decent meal," Airhart said.

The effort he calls "Taste for the Homeless" isn't Airhart's job; he makes team mascots for a living. But he says feeding the hungry is "his calling."

Since he depends on donations to buy the food, Airhart says some weeks there's more than others, but he'll serve up whatever he's able to purchase.

"This isn't government-funded. It's not state-funded. It's just people like yourself doing something kind for those down on their luck," Airhart said. "I care about these people. They're like family to me."

On January 12, Airhart will be moving his grills to Columbus Park for an event for Chicago's homeless. Through the help of volunteers and donations, he hopes those who make it will leave not only full, but also with a bag of clothes and necessary toiletries in hand.

"We are going to bus in folks from all over the city for this, but we need help," Airhart said.

For more information on how you can support Taste for the Homeless or volunteer head to tasteforthehomeless.com.

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