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Changing Lives With Hot Dogs

Seeing her now, it's hard to imagine, but Sherry Gafney says she used to be a real bum: running the streets, drinking.

She was a prostitute, living in a homeless camp. Her walls were made of pallet and box spring — But that was then.

Today she works two jobs. Every day, mornings at a grocery store, and nights at McDonald's. She's got a home and, now, a future. And this is the story of exactly how she turned her life around.

"It all started with a hot dog," Gafney told CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman.

Every Sunday, Rick Swyden and his volunteers scour Oklahoma City looking for homeless people who might appreciate a hot dog lunch. And they find them — all kinds of them.

Swyden came up with the idea four years ago after buying one man one meal.

"That's a life changing experience of feeding this man ... I tell you giving is awfully addictive," Swyden said.

During the week, the hot dog man runs a video production company. He does wedding videos, dance recitals, that kind of thing. Rick is 46 and married with five kids — just a regular guy who took a simple idea (he started with 16 hot dogs) and stuck to it, no matter what the season.

Thanks to donations and volunteers hot dogs for the homeless (as he calls it) now hands out 300 lunches a week, which is certainly nice. But life-altering?

How do you alter someone's life with a hot dog?

"It's so amazing," Gafney said. "But it works. You know what it is — it's love."

"It's really not about the hot dog," Swyden said. "It's about the human contact that these people don't get a lot of."

Because Swyden is out here every week, week after week, these folks have become his friends, so when they're really ready to start over, they often turn to the hot dog man.

Swyden's group got Gafney into rehab and into her first apartment ever. And to think it all began with a hot dog.

What's Gafney's favorite food?

"Chinese. I love Chinese," she said.

Wouldn't it have been a better ending if she would have said, "hot dogs?"