Hot dog man serves up blessings

Thursday, June 12th 2008, 8:01 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

A metro man is serving the homeless year-round by handing out hotdogs and words of encouragement.

Rick Swyden, the "hot dog man," has become a reliable friend to the homeless around downtown Oklahoma City.

"A hot dog ain't much," said one recipient. "But it is to somebody that can't go in the mission to eat."

Those receiving the meals and gifts said they are gratful that the hot dog servers don't forget them throughout the year.

The warm meal the hot dog man cooks up started during a spontaneous meeting with a homeless man who was hungry.

"We went to this A&W Root Beer stand and we tried to order a hamburger," Swyden said.

The man behind the counter told Swyden that he only sold hot dogs at the location.

"It was just kind of like my sign, you know, from God," Swyden said. "I was supposed to serve a homeless man a hot dog."

Since the epiphany, he's served 75,000 hot dogs over the last five years. Occasionally, they have socks or shorts to give the homeless.

"I treat these people like I treat anybody. They're just people and they're wonderful people," Swyden said. "I enjoy seeing them every week, and I've developed many friendships and acquaintances down there."

Throughout the years, the hot dog man estimates that he and his fellow volunteers have helped 20 people get off the streets.

"If it wasn't for people like you caring for people like us, and the good Lord's blessing us all every day, I don't know where we would be," said one man who has been blessed by Swyden. "I know the good Lord loves me by sending angels like you guys."