Like many college students, Millersville University students love the word “free,” especially when it’s free food. Every Thursday night during the semester, Pastor Duane Metzler from the New Life Fellowship Church teams up with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity to provide the Millersville community with free hot dogs at the popular event known as “Jesus Dogs.”
Jesus Dogs, also known as J-Dogs, was created in 2010 after a group of students visited the Bowery Mission in New York City to provide food to homeless people. After feeling the impact of their trip, the students came back to MU wondering how they could serve their own community.
Metzler explains the idea behind the name of J-Dogs, “I suggested the hot dog component and students started serving [them] every Thursday night. The Jesus part of the name was given because those serving were followers of Jesus [who] wanted to share the love of Jesus through a gift. In 13 years, no one has had to pay for a hotdog!”
Metzler understands the importance of holding an event like this. “We hold Jesus Dogs every week to provide consistency, to create a tradition and to feed the students,” Metzler says.
The event is held off-campus in a pavilion at the Brookwood apartments. Metzler explains that he reached out to Geoffery Beers, the CEO of Student Services Inc. and Student Lodging Inc. when he saw a new pavilion being built. “The pavilion is a happy coincidence. Student Lodging had planned for the pavilion even before we moved to that area. But as I talked with Geoff Beers from Student Lodging, it became clear it could be very useful for [distributing hot dogs].”
The pavilion will be a great asset to the event as Metzler notes the huge jump in students over the past year. “This year, the numbers have shot up from 400 students to over 1,000. Our current record was recently set with 1,050 hot dogs served in one night,” Metzler says.
To help provide supplies each week for the increasing number of students who attend, the group is selling T-shirts. “The T-shirts are a new addition and [are] intended to raise money to buy more hot dogs. It costs about $500 a week to serve so many,” Metzler notes.
Metzler explains why he loves holding the event every week, “My favorite part of Jesus Dogs is connecting with students! Each week I make myself available to meet new people, talk to those I recognize and offer follow-up conversations to those who want more. We hope to continue the tradition for years to come.”