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Who we are: Shoulder the Cross is a social outreach ministry for the homeless.  Shoulder the Cross is one of the many programs provided by the Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Inc. (MLF) organization. Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Inc has been a 501(c)(3) nonprofit since 1998, the year they  were founded.

What we do:  Our mission is to provide food, clothing, and everyday supplies, normally taken for granted, to our friends in need. 

How we started:  My name is Brian Luck. I am a software engineer living in a suburb of Austin called Round Rock. I have volunteered for many years locally with the organization Mobile Loaves and Fishes. I was on the core planning team at St, Thomas More Catholic Church and was a truck captain on the Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck run every 2nd Tuesday of the month.
Back in 2003 I was moved by the compassion a friend and partner with Mobile Loaves and Fishes had for the homeless. I learned he was going down town Austin on a weekly basis and catering to the specific needs of the homeless. We had lunch and I learned he was bringing them not only food but over the counter medicine, clothing, shoes and almost anything they would ask from him, within reason of course. Together we planned to have me go out and serve in a similar fashion on a different day of the week. We agreed to keep the communication lines open and help each other with the growing needs of the Austin homeless. At the time, I was still serving monthly with the Mobile Loaves and Fishes organization but it wasn’t long before my weekly service took precedence and I stepped down from my activities both as a core member and my monthly truck runs to feed the homeless. When I first started out I would make about 12 sandwiches to bring out with me, I would stop by the goodwill and buy some pants and t-shirts and try to fill some specific needs I would encounter.
In 2004 I decided to put an ad in the paper asking for men’s clothes. A woman named Terry answered the ad. Terry is a manager who works at a Thrift shop in Kyle Texas. Kyle is about 50 miles south of Round Rock and 30 miles south of Austin. Terry promised me as many men’s clothes as I could handle. Since 2004 Terry has kept my garage stocked with Jeans, T-Shirts, socks, shoes and many other clothing items. I take a trip too Kyle about twice a month now and fill my pickup with clothing for the homeless.
In 2005 I started exploring the use of the Texas Capitol Area Food Bank. I was still volunteering at the time for Mobile Loaves and Fishes on the pantry inspection team. The Capitol Area Food bank would inspect our Mobile Loaves and Fishes facility every year. I spoke with the inspector and asked if I could use the food bank for my weekly homeless ministry. They graciously accepted my request and I soon started shopping at the food bank. I am still shopping at the food bank today using the Mobile Loaves and Fishes account. I get a lot of my chips, drinks and soups from the food bank. When I am lucky I get lunch meat and cookies.
Also in 2005 I started blogging on the Mobile Loaves and Fishes blog site. I received an email one day from a Monica Williams from the Giving City Austin magazine. Monica wrote:

Earlier this year, I read a post you wrote on the MLF blog that I still think about today. In it you talked about the people you serve, what they need, and how you were able to provide some of it but not all of it. I think it's stuck with me because it was a detailed and vivid image of what service to homeless people can be.

I've had it written on my whiteboard to contact you for months. I wonder if you'd consider writing a short essay for our blog/magazine called GivingCity Austin. We have written about Mobile Loaves & Fishes a lot, and I've kept up with all the activities at MLF via the blog/Twitter/videos/etc.

About GivingCity: The blog/magazine our effort ("our" referring to my business partner and me) to contribute to the philanthropic and charitable community in Central Texas. Please visit us here and download the first issue of our digital magazine. When you download the magazine, please see the column written by Pastor Joe Parker. Our vision is to present an essay like this each issue that we hope will inspire our readers to help/give/volunteer. This is the essay I hope you'll write for our December issue.
I did write the article for Monica and it was published in the January issue of the online magazine. The magazine can be downloaded here: http://givingcityaustin.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/givingcity-austin-magazine-2.pdf
Rachel, the web site coordinator for Mobile Loaves and Fishes, helped me start my own blog. This new blog can be found at http://shoulderthecross.typepad.com/blog_main/
I shop at the local Dollar tree store for many of my other items. Here I am tax exempt using the Mobile Loaves and Fishes 501c. I buy FM radios, head phones, foot powder, antibiotic ointment, toothbrushes, Band-Aids, batteries, watches, Q-tips and anything else $1 can buy that might help the homeless.
I also shop at SAMS Warehouse, not tax exempt,  for meat, cheese, Ziplocs, T-shirt bags, vitamins, and over the counter drugs, Styrofoam cups, coffee, cocoa, cream and sugar, spoons and anything else I might run into that could be of use to a person living on the street.
Alan Graham, the President and CEO of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, has been mentoring me on the best ways to operate a non-profit organization since 2008. Alan has graciously taken me under the wing of his organization. I now donate money to my own organization called Shoulder the Cross so everything I buy can now be tax-free.
I have helped others start their own weekly ministry. Justin Cofield from the Justin Cofield Band joined me for about 3 weeks in a row. He wanted to start his own ministry and now goes down town every other Thursday with some of his band members. Ann, a friend from St. Thomas More, also joined me with her family for several weeks. They now enjoy going out bi-weekly on Sunday mornings. 
Although I am humbled by my service, I feel obligated to share it with others. My dream would be to fill each and every morning of the week with someone doing their own special ministry all with the goal of helping our brothers and sisters in need.
Although I can usually find a means to help my friends, I have set up a donation site using the Mobile Loaves and Fishes website. If you would like to donate monetarily, feel free to use their safe and secure website to donate. If you are comfortable donating clothes and other items, feel free to contact me. I can arrange for pickup or even pay to have the items shipped to me. You can also contact me to get the latest list of “Hot Items” for the month.

Help for homeless