Hot dog vendor uses proceeds to feed hungry kids

First Posted: 4/22/2015

ROCKINGHAM — “To me it was audible. God said, ‘Feed the children.”

Martin Gordon owns a hot dog stand — Martin’s Hot Dogs — and has a number of regular customers who pop in during lunch hour to enjoy several styles of this great American mainstay. Recently, the food truck relocated from the parking lot near the old Ram Sporting Goods building to a larger space closer to downtown. Now Martin’s Hot Dogs can be found between the Shell station and La Cabana on West U.S. 74.

There are not a lot of children lining up to buy his daily specials and chips. He does not personally feed children. He mostly sells his hot dogs, chips and drinks to hungry adults. But what he does with a percentage of his proceeds goes a long way to see that children have access to food over the summer months when free school meals are no longer available.

“I’ve been called to do this,” he Gordon said. “I got this through prayer. I’m not Moses or anything, I know that. But to me it was audible. God said, ‘Feed the children.’ And I said, ‘Who?’ Ten days later it happened again, and then I saw an article in The Laurinburg Exchange about the summer feeding program and the work the Rev. Pastor Faye Coates was doing through Northview Harvest Ministries.”

That, he said, inspired him to seek Coates out. Now, he donates 10 percent of his earnings to the feeding program. It is the way Gordon tithes.

Charles Deaver of Rockingham, a retiree of General Electric in Wilmington, was glad to arrive in time for a hot dog Wednesday.

“I came by on the weekend while he was closing up,” Deaver said. “He told me the hours, that he closes up at 1:30. So I came back.”

James Carter of Pekin said he’s visited Martin’s Hot Dogs three times.

“Other than Sonic, I don’t know of anywhere you can get hot dogs around here,” he said. “They haven’t got a thing on him, though. You get a good experience every time here. He’s got a story to go along with everything.”

Carter ordered up four “all the way” hot dogs with slaw, chili, mustard and onions.

Gordon opened Martin’s Hot Dogs five years ago, but was already planning to open it six months before he retired as an insurance agent. He said running a food truck is not as simple as it appears, and costs money to start up.

“It cost thousands of dollars,” he said. “But I knew I was going to do this. And you’ll notice my sanitation rating is 99. I’m very proud of that.”

Gordon said the feeding program he donates to is important because kids are victims in their own homes.

“Parents don’t do right with their food stamps,” he said. “You can go to any store and see them buying these huge pallets of popular drinks and things, they swipe their EBT cards and then go out and sell the stuff. They convert it to cash, and that goes to drugs and alcohol — everything but the children.”

He said Coates told him that of the close to 6,500 students in Scotland County’s schools, “something like 73 percent get free meals.”

“I pray every morning,” Gordon said. “It makes me feel good because I know I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing every day.”

Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @melonieflomer.