“You are so kind,” Linda told the students, who were among more than two dozen volunteers helping to feed the less fortunate this year at the First United Methodist Church’s Communitywide Christmas Dinner. “This is wonderful. You are making so many people happy.”
Linda said she and her children missed out on Thanksgiving dinner last month and she knew there was no way Santa would make it to her house this Christmas.
“I only make about $290 (per month) so we didn’t have Thanksgiving (dinner) and we won’t have Christmas dinner either,” she said as she blinked back tears. “I can’t even afford to buy presents for my children.”
She said she learned about First United Methodist Church’s annual communitywide Christmas dinner when she read about it in the Bee-Picayune.
“This is really wonderful,” said Linda, 44. “Everybody here is so kind and the food is so good.”
More than 1,000 people enjoyed a Christmas meal of ham, sweet potatoes, buttery rolls, green beans, cranberry sauce, iced tea and pumpkin pie on Saturday — thanks to the First United Methodist Church.
Most of the meals were delivered to the home bound but about 60 people stopped by the church’s dining hall to enjoy the food and fellowship.
“This is one of the best turnouts we’ve ever had,” said volunteer Lou Adele May. “We had a lot of people walk over from across the street where they are holding the (Toys for Bee Kids) toy giveaway. We had more people than expected but we didn’t mind. The more the merrier.”
Volunteers — many of them school groups or members of other church congregations — helped prepare the meals, package the dinners and deliver them to the elderly or infirm.
By 11:40 a.m. Saturday the food was gone, said organizer Benny Belew who helped fill the Styrofoam to-go trays.
Pat Coffee played Christmas songs on the piano as diners enjoyed their meals. Volunteers — some more than others — sang along.
Henry and Carolina Longoria said they look forward each year to the communitywide Christmas dinner.
“He’s been planning this since last week,” Carolina said of her husband. “We can’t wait to come here and eat. We’ve been coming here for the last three years. The food is really good.”
Henry said the volunteers are great.
“This is just like Las Vegas,” he said. “The kids bring the food to your table.”