It’s beginning to look a lot like summer, with feel-like temps into the triple digits. But it’s still looking a lot like Christmas at the Open Door Mission.
Tables decorated with poinsettias, a ham dinner with all the trimmings, and, of course, time with family were all provided today to the community free of charge.
“I was telling everyone Merry Christmas as they came in, so they all got a kick out of that,” said volunteer Shelly Gibson.
If Christmas is a time for giving, July is a time for remembering.
“We slow down a little bit in volunteer numbers over the summer. So, this is a way to kinda remind people that we’re still here, that people have needs year round. Poverty isn’t just October thru December,” explained Amy Harvey, Volunteer and Partner Director for the Open Door Mission.
The Open Door Mission’s Christmas in July dinner serves almost twice their daily number of meals. Around 3-4,000 people could eat in or take home a Christmas dinner today, with three slices of ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, rolls, and a cupcake.
“It’s good. It’s flavored right, cuz I cook myself, so it is real good,” praised Connie Sharpe.
Like Sharpes, many families used the dinner as an opportunity to spend time together, just like the holidays.
“Usually our parents, they work or they’re in school. So we usually make dinner for them. So it’s a good opportunity to eat the Christmas in July dinner with them because of all their hard work,” said Connie’s daughter Chartassia.
And volunteers like Gibson say it’s a way for their family to give back.
“It’s good for them to get out and see that some people aren’t as blessed as others, and when you have blessings, it’s good to give them away,” said Gibson.
The Christmas in July event usually includes a shopping trip at the nearby Timberlake Outreach Center, but renovations meant diners had to shop at a center farther away.
However, a generous donation of chocolate milk meant families could still go home with something special.
“God’s just given us an abundance, so we’re hoping to just share it,” said Harvey.
Right now, Open Door says they need donations of sunscreen and bugspray. You can find more opportunities to volunteer on at www.opendoormission.org.