Winchester man’s mission lives on in partnership to help the homeless


Chris Scruggs passed away on April 1


When Brandan Thomas of the Winchester Rescue Mission learned of the passing of shelter resident Chris Scruggs back in April, he was heart-broken.

“He was kind of the face of the Mission if you will,” Thomas, the Executive Director of the Winchester Rescue Mission, said of Scruggs. “Always had a great bubbly personality. Always the first to say ‘hey, how are you?’ Always willing to help in any way.”

Scruggs was a dishwasher at Shenandoah University’s dining hall, which is where he noticed how much food was going to waste.

“Somewhere in the neighborhood of maybe 5,000 lbs. Maybe $10,000 a year worth of product,” said Executive Chef Donnie Hawkins, who trained Scruggs to work in the kitchen.

Thanks to Scruggs, much of that now goes to back to the Rescue Mission. He helped to establish a partnership between the mission, the university, and the company behind the dining hall, Sodexo, which began about four years ago, when Scruggs started working at the university.

Thomas recalls his early years at the mission, when serving enough food to feed 60 to 80 people a night was difficult. He says people got used to seeing him behind the counter, knowing his culinary skills meant it would be soup and sandwiches again.

With the partnership, he and his volunteers spend less time in the kitchen and more time working with those living in the shelter.

“Twenty-five to thirty percent of the meals we serve weekly is coming from Sodexo here,” he said.

Although Scruggs passed away on April 1, officials within the university and Sodexo say Scrugg’s memory will live on through the partnership.

“I think it’s pretty awesome that we continued the relationship and in some small way we’re able to tribute Chris in all that he was able to do at the Mission, do here at Shenandoah as part of our Sodexo team,” Hawkins said. “Just being a overall a good person.”

Thomas agreed, adding that Scrugg’s impact would last far beyond his time spent at the mission and the university.

“If there’s anybody who would have the ability to help people even beyond this life, it would be Chris. Because that’s who he was and that’s what he did.”

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