OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Christmas Eve, the Open Door Mission campus was filled with the holiday spirits of joy, thankfulness and good will toward others.
The morning started off with a Christmas Eve brunch, made possible through the help of 65 volunteers.
“You can just feel it spread, because especially, that’s what this time of year is about," said long-time volunteer Julie Hudson. "So it’s awesome to be able to say good morning and see that these people really appreciate that we’re here serving them.”
As they waited on the guests, the volunteers lent open ears and hearts to hear their stories.
“So many of our guests are here because they have nowhere else to go," said Candace Gregory, CEO and President of Open Door Mission. "This obviously was not on their bucket list to experience homelessness during Christmas or during a health crisis. But they’re here, and they have more than someone else in our community.”
Santa Claus also made a stop at the Lydia House, bringing plenty of presents with him for parents to see their kids open Christmas Day.
“It means a lot, because I was struggling really bad," said Katie Kohl, who was staying at Lydia House with her 19-month-old son. "So they’ve changed my life, in more ways than just this.”
Through the Lydia House's "Adopt a Guest" program, more than 600 men, women and children experiencing homelessness will have a gift on Christmas morning.
The mission’s Project Santa Toy and Joy Drive also provided gifts for over 4,000 children in the community.
“This is a fabulous testimony to how well our community cares for those that are vulnerable and less fortunate," Gregory said.
Gregory said they're looking for volunteers for their next event on Dec. 29. That will be the 94.1 Diaper Unloading Party from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2828 N. 23rd St. East in Omaha.