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AUHS nursing students who volunteered at the “Giving Thanks” event.

AUHS nursing students who volunteered at the “Giving Thanks” event.

Isaiah 58:10 And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noonday.

American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) gave the homeless an early Thanksgiving meal in their annual Acts of Love: Feeding the Homeless event at the Second Samoan Congregational Church last Sunday morning, November 20th, 2016. The event began at 8 am with a sermon. People of all races, ethnicities, ages, and different walks of life filled the pews and were brought together as one in the name of Jesus Christ.

The church service was lead by Pastor Gregory Johnson, the co-founder of AUHS. When Pastor Johnson stepped behind the podium, he sang with the choir “Tell Him what you want (Jesus is on the mainline)” by the Staple Singers. The churchgoers rose to their feet, clapped and sang along.

“If you stand up for God, God will stand up for you,” Pastor Johnson told the congregation, “If you don’t stand up for God then you will fall for anything.”

Pastor Johnson told parishioners that “sometimes you just want to be in a place where you can be” but there is nothing greater in this world than to receive God’s blessing.

Pastor Johnson reminded the congregation to thank God for being patient with them because there are times when people can lose sight of the blessings that they have.

“I was thinking the other day how ungrateful I can be. And as I thought about that, I realized everything that God has done for me. And if you are ungrateful, it puts you in a place outside of God’s blessing,” Pastor Johnson said, “And one of the most important things that I have come to understand is that if I’m going to say how much I love God, I need to thank God. All you’ve got to do is pray and praise the Lord and God will make it fruitful for you.”

Pastor Gregory Johnson, co-founder of AUHS, giving money to the homeless and families in need.

Pastor Gregory Johnson, co-founder of AUHS, giving money to the homeless and families in need.

During Pastor Johnson’s service, AUHS nursing students were hard at work in the church’s parking lot. 60 students volunteered for the Feed the Homeless event. They helped pitch the tents, set the chairs and tables, greeted attendees, served food and water, and collected trash.

“We’re always happy to help the people in need,” said Katherine Perez-Tobar, an AUHS nursing student, “It’s very satisfying to see that we’re helping people that actually need help in the community. Volunteering at events likes this gives us the notion and the knowledge of the type people that we’ll be helping out as future nurses.”

AUHS served mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, turkey slices, fried chicken, bread rolls, pumpkin pie, turon (sweet banana egg rolls), pancit (Filipino noodles with meat and vegetables), and more. They also gave away sleeping bags.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the church; the line wrapping around the building. Among the attendees was Coco Logan, a former homeless woman of over 8 years. She said she appreciated Pastor Johnson and AUHS’ efforts in helping those in need.

“(Homeless people) don’t have money or cooking facilities and for a lot of us, this is the only way we get a hot meal,” said Logan, “I appreciate (the AUHS students) coming in and doing this because it’s hard. A lot of people look down on homeless people. They say we stink and we’re dirty. What they are doing is a blessing.”

acts of love event

People enjoying their free, hot meal at AUHS’ “Giving Thanks” event in the parking lot of the Second Samoan Congregational Church.

Not only did AUHS serve the homeless that day but needy, low income families as well. Gasper Lucas and his wife Veronica brought their three children Orlando (age 10), Kelly (age 8) and Nova (age 3) to the event. Gaspar works for a distributing company full-time and his wife Veronica works at a tape agency part-time. However, The Lucas family currently lives in their car and sometimes in motels.

“The 5 dollar (donation), breakfast and every little help that we get goes a long way,” said Gasper, “We appreciate events like this.”

It’s obvious by looking at today’s wonderful event that GIVING is being THANKFUL. AUHS is a private, for-profit, minority owned, minority serving, Christian-based university that offers a B.S. degree in Nursing and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Master’s degree in Clinical Research.

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