Ray Lankford exemplifies the spirit of giving - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ray Lankford exemplifies the spirit of giving

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

Ray Lankford is a busy man.  When you help feeds hundreds of people every day, it stays that way.  "It's a calling you might say. Not everybody wants to do stuff like this but I think that God put me here." Lankford explained. 

Ray is a religious man working in a religious setting.  His faith guides that work.  "I have helped Jesus. I have touched his face somehow. Touching the face of God is a great privilege." Lankford said. 

Mary Meldren runs the soup kitchen with stunning efficiency. What Ray does every day leaves her stunned as well.  "He walks to work, rain or shine, cold, sleet, it doesn't matter. Ray cares about this place and it's truly in his sole." Meldren said. 

Ray is not alone though. Other volunteers may sure this kitchen is open every day.  He is quick to praise their efforts.  "They are the elite of the elite. The best people as far as I can see. I don't know much about the outside world like the rainman, but these are my friends, and family and co-workers." Lankford said.  

Feeding the hungry and homeless of Jackson County is serious business. There are thousands of people who eat here every week. But it pays to have a good sense of humor, and Ray's co-volunteers say he has just that.

One of them is Jessica Starr.  "He'll be talking about a lot of stuff that will have everybody laughing. Everybody is trying to be sad around here or angry and he brightens everybody's day up actually." Starr said. 

With the hectic pace an everyday occurrence, does Ray ever think about slowing down or cutting back on his labor of love?  "I have been here since I was 30. That means I've been here half my life and I hope to stay here another 30 years. I think that's the right answer." Lankford promised. 

There is not better answer than that.

This is the second time that Our Daily Bread has served a meal on Christmas day. That was made possible by the dozens of extra volunteers who showed up today ready to help in any way they could.  The kitchen survives solely on donations of money and food.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.  

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