A young volunteer packages pie slices on Christmas Day

Twas the morning of Christmas and all through the city, while many were sleeping, others were serving! The true spirit of the holiday season is one of giving and there are few places that reflect the magic and power of this energy like the hustle and bustle of the Jimmie Hale Mission on Christmas morning.

Hundreds of volunteers poured onto the campus beginning at 6 a.m. to serve those in need. The day kicked off with a hot breakfast for the men’s center clients before a new wave of volunteers reorganized the dining hall to prepare a record 507 hot holiday meals for delivery to seniors and shut-in throughout the community.

For more than 15 years the Mission has partnered with the United Way’s Meals on Wheels program to bring Christmas meals to those program participants. More than 300 volunteers took ownership of nearly 100 different delivery routes, ranging from three to 12 meals each, to ensure that no one was without a traditional meal on this beautiful day.

Becky Wright, the nutrition coordinator for Meals on Wheels, was on hand helping package plates and addressed to the volunteers in the chapel prior to the mass delivery. She informed the group that while those receiving meals today account for only half of the total program number, these individuals had confirmed they would be alone for Christmas and would not receive a meal otherwise.

A volunteer readies a new pan of turkey

“You will likely be the only face many of these people see today,” said Mission community engagement coordinator Terry Preston as the room let out a muffled groan reflecting this new-found reality. “So, please be patient and smile,” he added with a big grin. “This is really going to make their day.”

When asked by the media about the role the volunteers would be playing in the community this afternoon, executive director Michael Coleman was quick to point out that the impact would go well beyond preparing and serving meals. “Many of our volunteers today were family groups,” he said. “Several of them had their younger children with them. Christmas is a time for family and presents and they could have stayed at home and celebrated like so many of us get to. But instead, they took time out of their holiday to come out and serve others. I think that makes them a blessing to those they are helping and teaches invaluable lessons to the children they are raising.”

Thank you to everyone who helped make some else’s day brighter by sacrificing your time and well-deserved rest. Your generosity impacts more lives for the better than you can ever know.

From our Mission family to yours, Merry Christmas.