Volunteers give up Christmas morning to receive better gift

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Around 8:00 am, there was a long line snaking through the Harrison County Sheriff Office Work Center. The people standing in line there weren't waiting to see Santa or buy the hottest toy. Instead, they were waiting to serve others.

"What you see is 300, maybe 400 volunteers that gave up their Christmas morning to come out here to do this because they want to be a servant," said Feed the Needy Board Member Jimmy Johnson.

Each Thanksgiving and Christmas, Feed the Needy provides a holiday meal to folks throughout Harrison County. They get a big helping hand from county and city law enforcement, sponsors like the Hard Rock Casino and volunteers.

"It's from four year olds to senior citizens up in their 90s and some people in wheel chairs. What better service can you give Christmas morning," said Johnson.

"There are really a lot of people that don't have homes and can't pay for their food. We're here today for the ones that can't. And we'll deliver it to them, so they can have the food for Christmas," explained Madison Havard who was one of the youngest volunteers. "Last year we came because of me, but we're going to try to make it a tradition."

Volunteers make each plate 'assembly line style' before packing it up and getting delivery directions.

"It looks like organized chaos out here. But, we'll feed 2,000 people today, and we'll feed them in less than an hour," said Johnson.

Cooks work for several days to prepare the traditional Christmas meal, complete with cranberry sauce and pie. And while those in need get a hot meal, those helping leave with a warm heart.

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