Pastor goes homeless for 14th straight year
A Buffalo tradition will continue this Thanksgiving week, as Pastor Eric Johns spends the next several days living with the homeless. YNN's Kate McGowan caught up with the pastor and his team as they explain why they keep this tradition going.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — He's back at it again.
"This is my favorite week of the year to be honest," said Pastor Eric Johns.
Throughout this Thanksgiving week, Johns will sleep outside, under bridges and when it's too cold, he will stay in shelters and bus stations. All to shed some light on the less fortunate right here in Western New York.
"Each and every person out on the streets right now has a different story. They're individuals that we need to touch personally, and all the lives we have seen changed over the past fourteen years are people that we have made a personal investment in their lives," he said.
Johns is the pastor of the Buffalo Dream Center. He has been taking to the streets for more than a decade.
This year, he will spend six days in both Buffalo and Lockport.
"There's a lot of families in our community who are struggling," the pastor explained.
And he's not alone, as many have joined behind him over the years.
Pastor, Pat Fleming said, "We've been in ten degree weather, we've been in days like this that are beautiful. But with it, the challenges come."
Challenges like walking ten miles a day and finding a warm spot to sleep. But it's all worth it.
Pastor Johns goes homeless each year to help raise critical awareness for the Boxes of Love campaign through the Buffalo Dream Center. It's a campaign which brings hope and happiness to families unable to make ends meet.
"We're going to help about 3,000 families this Christmas. They're going to get a turkey, food and gifts for all the kids. That means about 5,000 presents that we need to wrap and give out to kids," Johns said.
The pastor's dedication over the years has changed lives and offered encouragement to those who have needed it most.
"I love the man, the man literally saved me. He gave me, like I said this has given me hope that things will change and it has changed and you know, that's it," a Buffalo man said.