Arnold Abbott vows to continue feeding homeless in Fort Lauderdale despite dwindling funds

Abbott says Love Thy Neighbor Fund has about $10,000 left

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A South Florida homeless advocate who gained international attention after he was arrested for feeding homeless people on Fort Lauderdale Beach may soon have to close his kitchen.

It was more than two years ago when media from around the world descended on Fort Lauderdale Beach after Arnold Abbott, then 90, was arrested for feeding the homeless.  

"I'm a scofflaw. I've been a fighter for the underdog all my life," Abbott said. "We heard from every continent, except Antarctica. We never heard from a single penguin."

The criminal case against Chef Arnold, as he’s known, is still pending as the two sides attempt to work out a deal.

Abbott said he'll go to jail before he stops feeding the homeless on the beach.

"They want me to accept a feeding place that they will build, that's what they offered," Abbott said. "The quid pro quo is I give up the beach, and there's no way I'm going to give up the beach."

Abbott is now facing an even more dire threat. His top funder can no longer finance his Love Thy Neighbor Fund, which will cut his annual budget of $60,000 in half, and put his work in jeopardy after 25 years.

"It's dire. That's a one-word description of it. It's dire. We're running out (of money)," Abbott said.

Abbott said the fund has $10,000 left, which will help him stay open until the end of the month.

"I'm considering taking $10,000 out of my retirement funds, which are very small, as a loan to Love Thy Neighbor, hoping it will be given back by generous people," Abbott said.  

"What happens if you don't get any help?" Local 10 News reporter Bob Norman asked.

"Well, I'll go sell my blood and whatever else I can do to keep going," Abbott said. "I'll keep doing it for as long as there's breath in my body."

Abbott turns 93 on Wednesday, but he said it will just be another workday, helping the homeless in Fort Lauderdale.

Anyone who would like to help Abbott keep feeding the homeless can call 954-682-2303 or visit lovethyneighbor.org.

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