BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This year's Christmas feast at the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission was smaller than in years past. The chapel was transformed into a serving and dining area, but according to Executive Director Tom Mims, the turnout from volunteers and those in need of a meal was huge.
"Today's been fantastic. This is awesome. I have to be honest with you, I'm oh ye of little faith. It was my wife who said, 'No, we can do this,' and we did it. It looks like we're going to feed about three, maybe 400 meals today," said Mims.
The move was necessary, because officials are in the process of rebuilding their main facility in Biloxi that was lost to fire in September. That fire destroyed the thrift shop, kitchen, and office, leaving only a generator and walk-in freezer standing. It only strengthened the resolve of the community.
"This fire has not stopped them. In fact, we've had more friends come out as a result of this fire. This fire has done nothing but bring the people together," Mims said.
For volunteers like Micheal Davis, the chance to give back and teach their families something is what this season is all about.
"I wanted to volunteer, because I wanted to bring my family, I have an 8-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. I'm constantly trying to let them know that they are a little more fortunate than other people, and I wanted them to be able to get a firsthand experience of it. I wanted them to be able to come and see how it's actually better to give than receive," Davis said.
Mims said construction on the new building will begin in February and should be ready in plenty of time for next year's feast. Until then, donations are still being accepted, and the thrift shop will continue to be run from the parking lot of the mission.