Michigan couple looks to empower South Bend's homeless community

NOW: Michigan couple looks to empower South Bend’s homeless community

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Michael and Deanna Salisbury from Buchanan started a holiday tradition this year to bring warm food and clothes to folks in need many miles away.

“Anything can happen at any time to change someone’s life,” said Michael. “We just have the ability now to do it for the betterment of them. Instead of trying to knock them down we’re trying to build them back up.”

Their modest movement started in Novemember.

“Somehow ended up in downtown [South Bend] and we drove past and there was two dozen or so underneath the bridge and all their belongings,” said Deanna. “It kind of hit [Michael] at home and he says, ‘we’re going to get a turkey and we’re going to bring it down to them.’ I went ‘they can’t cook it,’ and he says ‘no we’re going to cook it.’”

They prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for several dozen homeless people that day.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Michael. “Some of the people who showed up were so cold they couldn’t even hold the plates.”

They knew they had to do something else to help out.

As another holiday approached, the Michigan family decided they wanted to prepare a Christmas dinner for the community.

This time, with a little help, they were able to host “Christmas under the Bridge” on Friday.

“Golden Coral, Rise and Shine, and a whole bunch of people jumped in and it turned into this huge event,” said Michael.

With that support, they were able to feed more than 70 people.

But what’s Christmas without Christmas gifts?

Thanks to a generous donation of 50 coats from the Detroit-based Empowerment Plan Group, the couple was on a road trip from Buchanan to Detroit to pick them up.

“We left here at 7:30 in the morning and probably got back here at 7:30 at night,” said Michael.

They say it was well worth it.

Especially because of some of the stories people they fed shared with them.

“[One guy] just came right on out and admitted to me that he was contemplating suicide,” said Michael. “The man is still walking around breathing. He didn’t give up.”

Because of that, Michael and Deanna won’t give up either.

They’re planning on preparing a big chili dinner next.

“Put yourself in their shoes,” said Deanna. “I am my brother’s keeper.”

You can contribute to the next dinner for the homeless event by donating here, add the word "homeless" in the comments.

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