By Kirsten Swann
The air outside Anchorage’s Downtown Transit Center hovered right around zero Tuesday morning.
Inside, Garry Horton meandered through the rows of benches, carrying a plastic tote bag filled with hand warmers he passed out for free to anyone who looked cold — old men and students and young mothers with babies.
He comes down to the transit center whenever the temperatures hit the single digits, he says. Sometimes he brings bus passes he purchases himself. Sometimes he brings hats and gloves he picks out from a thrift store on Dimond Boulevard, and sometimes he brings socks he buys in bulk at Costco.
“A great leader once said that he don’t give people anything that don’t cost him anything,” Horton said. “If it doesn’t cost you anything, it’s not worth giving away.”
He tries to give away things he’d like to have himself. The last few days have been particularly cold, and Horton is running low on just about everything: socks, hats, gloves and the individually packaged hand warmers he distributed Tuesday. Soon, he’ll make trips back to Costco and the Dimond secondhand store to refill his tote.
He does it because it’s what Jesus would do, he says, and “I think if everyone goes around doing good, we’ll cover everybody.”
“That’s the positive part I see about the gospel; I like that part,” he said. “Anybody can do good. You don’t have to be the pastor, preacher … Just go around and just do good to people.”
He’s been giving away hand warmers at the transit center for more winters than he can remember. He believes God is a shape-shifter who appears everywhere — even the benches at a downtown bus station — and if you take care of the people sitting there, one day you’ll take care of God himself. Horton is sure he has before.
“So that inspires me,” he said.