Hundreds receive a warm Christmas meal

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Christmas spirit was spread throughout Biloxi's Gulf Coast Rescue Mission Saturday afternoon. The rescue mission served up hot holiday meals for anyone who was hungry. The rescue mission's chef said he started preparing for their annual tradition on Monday.

After a week of preparation the doors opened for hundreds of people to come inside out of the rain and share a warm Christmas meal.

Jerry Strehlow said, "We cooked 27 turkeys, 14 hams and a bunch of potatoes."

Green beans, dressing, gravy and so much more was cooked by Gulf Coast Rescue Mission Chef Jerry Strehlow. He said it took a lot of ingredients to prepare for more than 500 people.

"Looking at about 30 cans of yams and a lot of cinnamon, a lot of sugar and a lot of butter," said Strehlow.

Volunteers filled the room serving up the fresh feast and packing up to go boxes. Including long time volunteer Doctor Larry Drawdy. Drawdy said this is the sixth year him and his wife have shared Christmas at the rescue mission.

Dr. Larry Drawdy said, "It's more blessed to give than to receive, and you really receive a great blessing by coming over here and working in many of these different organizations throughout our community."

Assistant Director Jim Freson said the food and fellowship have continued for more than 15 years. And said he wouldn't want to spend his holiday any other way.

"It's a blessing for me to help those in need. It just shows we're being good servants to God to do what he did and follow in his footsteps, and we just thoroughly enjoy it," said Jim Freson.

The occasion was joyous for all volunteers. Strehlow said seeing the hundreds of smiles walk through the door is a feeling that never can be forgotten.

Strehlow said, "When you've looked back at the end of the day and you see what you've done and you realize you're doing the Lord's work and the Lord has used you for his business, that makes you feel pretty good."

The staff said there were more than 50 volunteers on hand this year. Meals were served from noon until 4 p.m.

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