“We serve anybody who wants to eat with us. It’s an expression of love from our church for the people of our community” was the description Fred Harrington gave to describe the annual community dinner hosted by First United Methodist Church in Waxahachie.
This is the 11th year for the community dinner, with Harrington estimating 236 dinners were either delivered by volunteers or taken out by recipients.
“We will serve another estimated 100 dinners at the church,” Harrington said as the event was under way on Christmas.
Recipients of takeout or delivered meals included shut-ins, families in need, the fire and police departments, emergency rooms and even people staying at local hotels.
“The majority are to people and families referred to us by Meals-on-Wheels,” said Judy Bowler as she assigned delivery drivers. One of the recipients was an elderly blind man, she said, adding, “If it wasn’t for the meal, he would have not had a meal for Christmas.”
This year’s meal included homestyle fruit salads, baked ham, mashed potatoes, dressing and green beans. There was a choice of several desserts: all cooked and provided by the church.
“There is so much outpouring of people who want to help others in the Waxahachie community. Volunteers come not only from our church, but from other churches in the area, community agencies, and people in the community who just want to help out,” Harrington said, describing the more than 50 volunteers who helped out with this year’s dinner.
Two of the volunteers were Jessica Robles and Samantha Ferguson, who were on hand to help as a part of a required community service project.
“We helped prepare take-out dishes, wash dishes and make food and whatever they needed us to do,” the two girls said. “We found there are people who need help and there is a need for helpers, especially during the holidays.”
They were joined by their parents, Anna Robles and Maria Ferguson, and both girls said they will be back next year to volunteer again.
Charlie Ranton is one of the volunteers who has been with the mission project since its beginning 11 years ago.
“I met with Joe Jenkins, telling him the church needed a mission project. It started out as a take-out feeding the homeless,” Ranton said of the project’s beginnings.
“In the following years, we got over the stigma that it was not just for homeless people. We turned it into a community mission, serving anyone who wanted to share Christmas with us or who needed a dinner,” Ranton said.
Those who came to dine at the church’s fellowship center included community leaders, church members and local residents.