It’s good to be reminded that the Christmas season should be all about giving.
The Graham Street Church of Christ provides an example of that principle by serving a free traditional Christmas meal to the community once a year at its Family Center.
On Wednesday, volunteers from that church, along with youth and adults from Stephenville’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, provided hundreds of meals to residents.
In addition to those who attended the sit-down event, volunteers delivered dinner to Meals on Wheels recipients, along with other shut-ins who were included through connections made in advance with local churches.
Last year 820 people received a meal at the event.
The food included turkey, dressing, green beans, yams, rolls, cranberry sauce and apple crisp.
“This is a way we can give a Christmas gift to the community,” said one of the organizers, Le Jones. “It’s not necessarily that you’re hungry, it’s just that you’re a member of our community and we’d like to feed you one night a year.”
While the holiday season can be a difficult or even depressing time in some people’s lives, finding ways to give of yourself to others can be a helpful activity, Jones noted.
“If you look at Christmas as an opportunity to give, it’s a completely different perspective,” Jones said.
Attending the event is a regular habit for Vicky Dodge, who is a former volunteer who assisted serving the meals for about 10 years, back when she attended the Graham Street church.
“When I first started (attending), I used to work it,” said Dodge, who now attends Cross Timbers Church of Christ. “My husband was working tonight, so he wasn’t able to come.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing. It helps bring everybody together as a town. A lot of people don’t get to have a nice, big Christmas dinner — and I think, for the people working it, it’s something they enjoy doing.”
One first-time attendee, professional painter Dan Yates of Stephenville, said a woman he was doing some work for told him about the meals and invited him.
“Anything like this is a wonderful thing for the people to get together,” Yates said. “I’ve seen some folks I hadn’t seen in a while. For these people to open the place up and allow anybody to come in is a wonderful thing.”
Yates noted that in a world where people seem to “scratch and claw for the last dime,” it is a welcome change to attend an event “where they don’t ask anything of you.”
Jones said the fact that LDS members volunteered to help was more than just a nice gesture.
“That’s the beauty of this, and if we could do more of that, I just think about how much better our world, our community could be by holding hands with different groups,” he said.