By: Emon Johnson
Twenty years ago, Luther Keith Jr. began his journey to help his community. I had the pleasure of riding along with him as he dropped off food and clothing to four locations in Los Angeles county. Having lived in the Los Angeles area since he was young, Luther Keith Jr. holds a special bond and responsibility to his neighbors and fellow citizens, especially that of the homeless population.
While driving to the first location, he explained how he first began helping. After observing different children without jackets roaming the streets of Compton and Lynwood, several people living under the freeway having not showered in months, and many others lacking proper care and attention, Luther went to a local youth home and asked for materials to bring to these people, personally.
“I just saw a need… I wanted to be a blessing. I got it from mother and father.”
Luther spoke on his relationship with his parents and the discipline they instilled in him, which inspired his desire to help his community. Luther stated, “When I was a kid, you couldn’t just do what you wanted to do. You had to have you clothes ironed Saturday for church on Sunday. Had to come in before the street lights on. A lot of the people you see in the streets, they don’t have that. They’re being raised by their grandparents, or are in Foster care. A lot of them don’t want to listen.”
When we arrived at the first location, an alley in Los Angeles near Imperial and Avalon, Luther promptly greeted non-visible recipients with a honk and cheer. Two people, a woman and a man, walked towards the car, and were met with Luther and myself.
He handed them several handfuls of food, shook hands, and parted ways.
On our way to the second location, Luther explained his work schedule and contributors to his cause. “I start at 7am and finish around 9 at night.” After his day job, Luther gathers supplies if he does not already have it, and begins his rounds. There are also people, volunteers, philanthropists, locals, and even large non-profit organizations like Volunteers of America, that meet with Luther and donate supplies and funds to him.
“People have seen me working either out on the streets, or Facebook and Twitter, and they started donating things to me. Helping my cause. It’s beautiful.”
Many of the locations he delivers to daily have various amounts of homeless occupying them at different times. Some of them with five to ten people, others in the hundreds. The extra assistance, Luther notes, is greatly appreciated and needed.
On the last two stops, Luther met with more of Los Angeles’ homeless community, delivering food, supplies, and prayers.
In the coming years, Luther plans to continue his journey to diminish the prevalence of homelessness in Los Angeles by bringing attention to it, continuously assisting those with immediate needs by providing food and water, and referring others to shelters and other forms of help. He is also aiming to bring 200 families Christmas dinners this year.