Anitra & Keith, Community Volunteers
Written by Jasmine Turner
Anitra and Keith Walker strive to embody what it means to have a servant's heart.
Both natives of the Burlington area, the husband and wife understand the need for assistance and empathy for the issue of hunger and homelessness in Alamance County.
While it can be easier to simply donate a canned good to a food drive or food bank, Anitra and Keith's approach is much more hands on.
"When I think about what Jesus has commissioned us to do, that's a small portion, I wish I could do more than just feed the homeless" said Walker.
They began over five years ago, volunteering with Faith in Action, a ministry started at the Elon First Baptist Church. Faith in Action would go to what used to be the Loaves and Fishes food bank every fifth Thursday to feed the homeless. Even after deciding to attend a different church, Walker, her husband and a few friends would purchase food to be served. Today their initiative has grown, especially in the last six months.
In the fall of 2013, Walker was asked by Elon campus pastor Minister Leon Williams to be the community service liason for a new ministry, One in Christ Gospel Ministry. Her job as the liason is to help get students, faculty and staff serving in their community through participating in feeding those suffering from hunger and homelessness. Every third Thursday Walker leads whoever is able to come from Elon in feeding those in need.
Driven by her faith, Walker's belief in God and the Bible's teachings on service are her driving force in her work at Allied Churches.
"He [God] loves you so much that He's making sure we're coming here and there's others coming every other day making sure you get fed." Walker said.
Standing behind a hot bar, Walker and her volunteers serve everything from full course soul food meals, to fresh Domino's pizza. Today, they receive assistance from the university in order to purchase most of the food that is served, which helps the operation continue.
Walker and her husband believe that it's important to feed people what will be good for them and good to them.
"I think that would be insulting to bring them something that I wouldn't even eat myself...sometimes we're sitting back there thinking I hope there's some left!" she said.
In their five years of volunteering, Walker and her husband have encountered old friends and class mates who have come to Allied Churches after falling victim to homelessness. For Walker seeing a former classmate with her child and boyfriend coming to get fed, made her realize how close to home the issue is and really can be.
"It could be you in any moment" said Walker.
While feeding meals to the homeless is an important part of her life today, Walker hopes to one day do more for the issue.
"If I could win the lottery I would buy homes that they could stay in until they got on their feet" said Walker.
Her passion is needed in order to bring awareness and get people to see the importance of volunteering more than just money, but valuable time that could make even just a small difference. She encourages anyone to join them or any organization that participates in feedings at Allied Churches.
"I think that a person that was thinking about volunteering would just go one time, that would seal the deal" she said.