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McDonalds On 22nd Was Instrumental In Launching Homeless Christian Outreach Program

Social Irony: McDonalds Restaurant Video’d In Viral Is A Homeless Community Advocate


The Myrtle Beach issue of “homelessness” has been viewed over 78 million times on Facebook this week.  Yesterday,  we released the public records of James Lee Owens’ troubled past and ongoing issues with local law enforcement. Some viewers told our reporting team that releasing Owens’ record was unfair.  We believe those records put into context the exchange between Owens and the local police officer.  Clearly area restaurants and MBPD have had valid issues with Owens ongoing now for a decade.  Sometimes context matters most.

As we have researched this story further, MyrtleBeachSC.com has been made aware (by a private Christian ministry leader) that the McDonald’s on 22nd is actually an advocate for the homeless, and is the inspiration behind a private “feed the homeless” charity called Bright H.O.P.E.S.

MyrtleBeachSC.com was contacted by Jennifer Matlock, who attended high school (Myrtle Beach Area Socastee High) with the 22nd Avenue McDonald’s owner, along with, Bill Garafola, who locally owns Competition Cars.  Jennifer later married and moved to Florida. In 2015, as Jennifer and her husband left church, they spotted scores of homeless teenagers living in the woods near their church.  The couple then drove to the local Florida McDonalds and bought the entire homeless group hamburgers.  The next Sunday,  they spotted the homeless teenagers again and repeated the same.

As Jennifer did not have the funds to help in an unlimited way, she decided to post on her personal Facebook page her concerns about these homeless teenagers and their need.  Bill, being a friend, as well as, a Facebook friend saw the post and wanted to help.  He immediately reached out to his old friend Joel Pellicci, who happened to own Myrtle Beach’s local McDonalds.

Jennifer told us McDonalds gift cards poured in allowing her to launch a “feed the homeless” program for these teenagers.  Joel’s only request was that he get no public attention for helping.  Jennifer told us she preferred not to be highlighted either.  Said Jennifer, “Joel has a heart for people in need, point blank. He does things anonymously.”  The ministry is now in the hands of a larger team in Florida and is thriving.

After our article of yesterday, local charitable community leaders have continued to message us about the local charity work ongong by Pellicci.  Each one has told MyrtleBeachSC.com that Joel would not want them to pile on with that information at this time.

Joel Pellicci, the owner of Myrtle Beach’s local McDonalds, is a private person by nature and never expected to be in the spotlight of an international viral video.  His management simply wanted to help customers who complained they were being  harassed while trying to order at the drive through menu.

James Lee Owens consistently stood at and alongside the order window of the 22nd Avenue McDonalds asking families with small children in the back seats of their cars for cash as parents tried to order food.  The families would then pull up to the payment window complaining about the man who had frightened their children.


Families told MyrtleBeachSC.com that James Lee Owens frightened small children whose parents were trapped in an order menu lane.

This has been a habitual, ongoing practice by Owens at area drive throughs for the past decade.  Locals say Owens could earn as much as $200 in a few hours using this highly effective practice.  When police were called, Owens would be asked to leave only to return hours later and start the process again.

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About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area.David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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