C.J. Bilka

2010 Individual Champion

C.J. Bilka is know for his personal commitment for more than a decade to aid the homeless in Columbia and to go the extraordinary length of establishing and running a program to feed this population. In the 1990s, when a day shelter closed, C. J. was inspired by a woman and her friend who commented that it was difficult to find something to eat on Saturdays. He discovered that none of the existing meal programs provided lunch on Saturdays. He sought to rectify this situation by obtaining permission from a friend who worked at Suggs & Kelly to use their parking lot at the corner of Hampton and Huger streets as a serving location and he began to spend Saturday mornings preparing a hot dog lunch and Saturday afternoons serving that lunch to the homeless. As the word spread, the number of recipients grew to more than 100 men and women.

Thus was born, in 2002, “His Hands Ministries,” which in 2004 became established legally as a non-profit community service organization. Every Saturday – all year long, rain or shine – a few hundred people line up to be led in a brief blessing, to receive a greeting, a smile and lunch from the “hot dog man” and his league of volunteers. 

Stories of Philanthropy