TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An Army veteran had a one-word response to several Tampa Bay residents who donated and volunteered to help his non-profit that delivers meals to those in need.
“Awesome,” Ken Cook said.
Cook founded Stone Soup Group about two years ago and since then has served about 5,000 hot meals from his SUV.
“It’s Uber Eats for the homeless,” Cook said.
Offers to help came from across the area after 8 on Your Side aired a story about Cook’s campaign.
Tampa business owner Rob Litgen, who opened RCL Concrete Cutting about eight years ago, sent Cook cash and offered to go with him on his next run.
Cook was especially appreciative after his SUV was totaled in a crash, and Litgen offered to use his own vehicle to help deliver the food.
Litgen said he was motived by Cook’s compassion as a volunteer and service as a soldier.
“Every night we were sleeping, he was keeping us safe,” Cook said. “Why aren’t we helping him to help them. We should be helping him. He shouldn’t have to do this. But if he does, I want to help”
Stone Soup Group also caught the attention of Congressman Gus Bilirakis who said Congress needs to do more to help the homeless.
“We should not have any homeless folks out there,” Bilirakis said. “Particularly, we should not have one veteran homeless.”
Bilirakis has asked to meet with Cook to discuss his non-profit.
“This is unbelievable,” Cook said. “I can’t thank [8 On Your Side] enough. The donations will go a long way.”
Litgen said he hopes the people who stepped up serve as a great example for everyone.
“I know I’m busy as an owner [of a business] but we can still take time on the side to help other people who are less fortunate,” Litgen said. “There’s too much division. We can really help if we do it together.
The most recent federal data indicates about 2,500 Florida veterans are homeless in a state with third highest homeless population in the nation with a total of about 28,000.