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It doesn't take a superhero to help the homeless, but it's sure nice when one shows up.
On Thanksgiving Day, several hundred volunteers worked to bring 1,600 meals to Reno's homeless population for the fifth annual Harvest of Hope event.
One of the volunteers was Jeremy Renner, known on the silver screen as Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye.
"He could have been anywhere on Thanksgiving, and he was on the streets of Reno giving back," said Chase McKenna, founder of Harvest of Hope. "He was just a father with his daughter."
Photo by Chase McKenna
Renner for more than three hours delivered warm clothing and blankets as well as gourmet meals of turkey, stuffing and green beans on the streets of Reno, near the Truckee River and at Fourth Street motels. The meals were cooked and prepared by local chef and restaurateur Mark Estee, staff from his restaurant Liberty Food and Wine Exchange and other volunteers, McKenna said.
"The homeless people ate better than I've ever eaten on Thanksgiving," McKenna said.
Renner, who has owned a home in Washoe County for the past four years, occasionally appears in Reno to enjoy the city that has so readily welcomed him, and also to support local causes. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office last year dubbed him a special deputy sheriff due to his support of local law enforcement.
"He does a lot of stuff behind the scenes that nobody sees," said Tim Doss, who is friends with Renner and volunteered to assist Harvest of Hope.
Doss is starting the Reno Hope Bus, a bus that will directly deliver goods to homeless people.
Photo by Tim Doss
Renner heard that Doss was helping in the Thanksgiving Day effort and asked to join with his daughter, Ava, and other family and friends. On Thursday morning, Renner brought two boxes full of blankets and delivered them, as well as other goods, to people at area motels and homeless camps.
Photo by Tim Doss
"The homeless were freaking out. He was out there hugging people, taking pictures with people. He was worried his daughter might become bored, but she looked at him and said, 'This is really fun.' He's a great dad," said Doss.
Renner's daughter helped hand out mittens and blankets as well.
Renner tried not to steal the focus of the day, McKenna said, though inevitably many of the volunteers and those receiving donations wanted to steal a photo with the "Avengers" star.
One volunteer, Kevin Wilfon, said he was giving high fives to children who were helping prepare meals at Liberty Food and Wine Exchange.
"I didn't recognize him at all at first," said Wilfon, who owns a comic-themed coffee shop, Coffee n' Comics.
Overall the day was a great success, said McKenna, who started Harvest of Hope out of her own kitchen five years ago by preparing a homecooked meal for 53 homeless people.
This year, the team of volunteers delivered 1,600 meals, thousands of articles of clothing and blankets and Kindness Kits, which included basic hygiene items, bottles of water and positive, handwritten notes.
"We don't want anyone to feel left out," said McKenna, who requires volunteers not just to hand items to recipients, but also to ask their names. "It gets my volunteers to think about homeless in a different way so that we don't have a line, and it's not like, "Next, next, next.
"My volunteers come back with all these stories. Many of these people have gone a long time without hearing their name, or saying their name."
She invited Renner to also participate in her next event, the Christmas Village and Toy Drive outside on the steps of the Lear Theater, 528 W. First St. from Dec. 13-15. Renner seemed very interested, according to McKenna.
"I really just see him as another person," said McKenna.
Source: Jenny Kane at the Reno Gazette Journal