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Why Complain?’: Retired Teacher Feeds Twin Cities’ Homeless

‘Sandwich Man’ Delivers Helping of Hope to Hungry 2:21

One sandwich at a time, Allan Law hands out love and hope in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, where night after night after night he goes out looking for homeless people to feed.

Every evening starting at dusk, the Sandwich Man — that's what everybody calls him — prowls the Twin Cities' streets in a van plastered with his phone number, finding people he can feed in homeless shelters and housing projects and on street corners, and he doesn't stop until morning.

At 68, he he's been doing it full-time since he retired as a teacher with the Minneapolis schools in 1999, but his mission goes all the way back to 1967, when he started Minneapolis Recreation Development, a nonprofit guided by a simple principle: "Judge our society by how we care for our children and the disadvantaged."

Don't let the name and the website fool you: Minneapolis Recreation Development is just Allan Law and a bunch of volunteers, thousands of them, who make the sandwiches he heads out with — enough for at least 1,500 people every night.

Everything's run out of Law's own apartment, where he maintains 17 freezers to hold the sandwiches his volunteers make every day. They come from every walk of life: nursing home residents, corporate professionals, even Boy Scouts.

"I've seen people out on the streets, and I'm like, I wish I could do something about that," says 8-year-old Cub Scout Christopher Burns. "So now I'm like, yes! I can do something."

Christopher and all the others are "doing as much as I'm doing," Law insists. "They may not be spending as much time, but if they don't make those sandwiches, I'm not feeding as many people."

But it's Law who goes out in the van every night, never mind the rain or the snow or the summer heat or the bone-chilling Minnesota winter.

"He's inspiring people from Japan, Greece, even Israel," says Jesse Roessler, whose documentary "The Starfish Throwers" chronicles the public service of Law and others like him. "We get emails every day from people saying [they're] starting a food project because they were inspired by Allan."

"Mr. Law is a Godsend," says a client at the Salvation Army one night. "Lots of people would go hungry if it weren't for him."

Law can't even tell you why he does it. All he knows is that "ever since I was a young kid, I knew that I had to help people," he says.

"I never complain, because I told myself a long time ago, 'why complain?'" Law says. "I can quit today and never do it again. I don't get paid. I've got a pension from teaching. But I'll never quit. I'll never take another day off."

Craig Stanley and M. Alex Johnson of NBC News contributed to this report.