It's 5 p.m. on a Wednesday and starting to get dark. A good time to head home, get some dinner and relax.
Not for Jerry Lawrence. He leaves his job as head custodian at Surrarrer School and heads over to the Strongville United Methodist Church, where he will spend the next four hours driving a blue bus loaded with food into some of Cleveland's poorer neighborhoods.
"We stop at seven or eight different places -- in front of churches, a group home, CMHA property," said Lawrence, who has been driving the bus for the last three years.
On a nice night, they'll feed 350 people.
"If we see people walking down the street, we'll stop and ask if they're hungry," said Del Painting of Brunswick, who, with his wife, Jeanette, coordinates the mission.
Volunteers meet at the church in the afternoon to cook and package the food. Some then board the bus and assemble the food into dinners, which they hand out through a specially made window.
They go every Wednesday. Even if it's cold, even if it's snowing or pouring rain.
"It's a lot more fun in the summer," acknowledges Jeanette.
They'll also hand out blankets, coats and clothing to those who need them.
The food is paid for two ways: By asking the United Methodist congregation to donate pocket change on Sundays and by local restaurants that, without fanfare, keep the ministry supplied.
Red Lobster, Panera Bread and Pizza Hut quietly hand over food every week. Church volunteers do the rest. On a recent week, the meals included fish, baked potatoes, hot dogs, pizza, green beans, cookies and apple cider.
"It's a completely different world, where we go," Jeanette says.
The church got involved in the effort about 12 years ago, when some members went out with the bus -- at the time, it was run by Gwen Scott of North Church in Cleveland -- and brought the ministry back to Strongsville.
The Paintings took it over a few years later at Scott's request.
Jeanette said she was inspired to take on the task by a missionary who once said he took on his life's work because someone had given him a pair of shoes.
"There's a great need, and that what God wants of me," Jeanette says.
Lawrence had recently gotten a day job when Scott first asked him to drive the bus, but when the other driver left three years ago, he was in a position to say yes.
"You always want to do something to give back," shrugs Lawrence, a former school bus driver. "I'm not a singer, so I can't join the choir. This is my way of contributing."
Other contributors to the ministry are A & H Trucking of Cleveland, which maintains the bus free of charge; Doug Kawiecki of ACM Signs and Graphics; Bullseye Active Wear in Brunswick; and Coppertop Golf Course in Valley City.
When the crew finishes its rounds in Cleveland, they drive the bus back to the church and scrub up the pots and pans.
"We go till we run out of food," Lawrence says. "We never bring any back."