Volunteers needed for Christmas Eve Big Feast

December 23, 2010 4:05:17 PM PST
Every year, thousands of people line up for a free meal on Christmas Eve -- the annual Big Feast. It's an important cause that really takes the effort of an entire community to put together, and this year organizers say they're falling short and need more help to make it happen. The 32nd annual Christmas Eve Big Feast is tomorrow. The event draws about 31,000 people to the George R. Brown Convention Center and right now, more donations are needed.

The turkeys are roasted and hand carved, and the cornbread baked fresh for the dressing. There are no shortcuts here; not even when feeding 20,000 people.

"You got to have yams, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Easter. And if you don't have it then, you shouldn't have it at all," said volunteer Stewart Johnson.

Johnson is a special education teacher the rest of the year. But during Christmas, he volunteers for the big feast.

"I'm an educator in Third Ward, so you see the need every day," Johnson said.

Preparations go on all night long, and though this is run by volunteers, they could certainly use more.

"We're believing that people will hear this plea and come and help us we need turkeys, hams, and cash donations as well," said Leroy Woodard, CityWide Club Exec. Director.

The CityWide Club puts on the feast every year. At the event, toys are given away to children, and job placement services are available for adults. Around 2,000 volunteers have already signed up, but they're still about 1,000 people short.

"They're the last man or woman standing, they are the only ones going on Christmas eve, when so many of us are with our families," said Congreswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

So the hours are long and the food preparations may seem unending, but the payoff of happy faces and full bellies is just hours away.

"We are down this year. Many people, I guess, are facing the downturn of the economy and so a lot of groups that typically were able to help us in the past just simply don't have the resources to do so," said Stephanie Lewis with the CityWide Club. "We are here all day at the George R. Brown accepting donations. We also need volunteers. So you can go online at CityWideclub.com and sign-up to volunteer."


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