Posted at: 12/25/2012 4:38 PM
Updated at: 12/25/2012 5:07 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The holidays are about spending time with family and rejoicing over a nice hot meal. But for those who do not have anyone or cannot afford it, it can be difficult. Tuesday, the most vulnerable in our community received both.
For the past 20 years, Noon Day Ministries has put on an annual Christmas party, welcoming with open arms hundreds of people who otherwise would have spent the day alone and hungry.
Greeted with a heartfelt Christmas wish, one by one, more than 700 people showed up for the annual holiday party. This included a free meal with mashed potatoes, ham, turkey and all the trimmings.
Noon Day Ministries Executive Director Danny Whatley organizes the event, and makes sure every year, no one has to go hungry or be alone on Christmas.
"It's good to spend Christmas with those that I consider family," Whatley said.
Most of the faces that filled the tables were familiar to Whatley. All from different circumstances, with a different story, but also a reminder of the harsh reality of being homeless.
Tuesday morning, police discovered a body on the streets, and the homeless community claimed it was one of their own.
"It's a great day, it's also a sad day," Whatley said. "We lost one up the street not even two blocks from here, that froze to death last night, one of our regulars."
Those who attended the party, families, friends and single moms, could not express enough gratitude.
"It's pretty nice, because they help people that can't eat on Christmas day, and we come here and spend it together with people we don't know," one woman, with her 10-month-old daughter, said.
"I haven't had a Christmas in years," Eloy Leyba, who is homeless, said.
The special Christmas event would be impossible without the kindness of volunteers.
"It's a great family experience. My little brother's 16 so we kinda do this to realize our situation, how fortunate every one of us are," Travis Dekker said.
Those who attended were grateful and made it clear, they are the lucky ones because they had somewhere to go and were surrounded by volunteers who know the true meaning of Christmas.
"It's a blessing for us, it really is," another man said.