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Kindhearted “Sandwich Man” Spends His Nights Feeding the Homeless

While most people look forward to a quiet retirement, 70-year-old Allan Law seems unstoppable. The former teacher from Minneapolis has spent the past 15 years tirelessly delivering food and other supplies to people on the streets. He distributed a whopping 520,000 sandwiches to the homeless last year, and over 1 million since 1999, earning himself the nickname ‘Sandwich Man’.

A typical day for Allan starts with collecting sandwiches made by volunteers, and donations from various groups to his organisation ‘Minneapolis Recreation Development Inc’. He then begins his delivery rounds at 9pm, driving his van through the streets of inner city Minneapolis, handing out sandwiches. He drives on relentlessly, ending his shift only at 10am. As a backup, Allan has 17 freezers in his apartment in Edina, packed with thousands of sandwiches. “Most of these are going to be turkey, bologna and cheese,” he explained during a video news report.

Allan, himself a patient of arthritis and a cancer survivor, continues to remain committed to his work, despite his ill health. “People say, ‘You’re crazy,’ and I say, ‘No. If I was homeless, or if I had a couple of little kids that needed food or something, I would appreciate someone coming, giving a helping hand,’” he said.

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Photo: NationSwell

Last year, as he was recovering after prostate surgery, he refused to miss a single day of his noble work. He actually sneaked out of the hospital, dressed in his nightgown and slippers, determined to continue his rounds. Now that he has recovered, Allan continues his practice of sleeping only two hours a day in his car. “Am I glad I’m working 18 hours a day? No,” he said. “But when you see a need you do it.”

Having worked with the homeless for so many years, Allan is keenly aware of the issues that they face on a day-to-day basis. “The shelters kind of fill up, but then you still have people that don’t want to live and sleep in a room with 150 people,” he said. “Then, they’ll stay outside. Then, you have people with psychological problems. Probably the biggest need other than food is just showing homeless people that someone cares.”

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Photo: The Starfish Towers

He starts off by offering them sandwiches, but soon strikes a conversation, asking them questions about what else they need and how he can help them get their life back on track. “My commitment is not to feed people. It’s to change lives,” he said.

Allan’s unusual dedication was the subject of the 2014 documentary film The Starfish Throwers. The idea for the film came about when filmmaker Jesse Roesler noticed the man’s tireless efforts. “We started this film following him, and seeing his story is what really inspired me to go out and find other stories around the world,” he said.

 

In fact, Roesler and the rest of the film crew were so inspired by the sandwich man’s work that they decided to join in by making 300 sandwiches themselves!

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