All day Saturday and Sunday morning members of the Waxahachie First United Methodist Church were making preparations were for the 16th annual Christmas Day luncheon for the community, held at the church’s Family life Center.

Saturday morning, event coordinators Susan Howard and Marlin Mitten were joined by more than 40 volunteers to begin the food preparations and decorations to the center.

Other volunteers were busy organizing the take out preparations lines and making maps for the deliveries that would be carried out by church volunteers.

By 11 Christmas morning, the preparations were finished and now close to 100 volunteers filled the center.

The first effort was to get the delivery volunteers on the road to take the meals to shut-ins and those who couldn’t get transportation to join in the fellowship at the church.

While families were loading boxes of dinner packages and getting maps to for their destinations, those who called in to pickup their meals were lining up.

“While we advertised this in the paper and asked those needing to pick up their meals and take them home or those needing a volunteer delivery, we still had a few surprises. We just had someone come in asking for 40 meals,” one of the volunteers called out.

“We are preparing more food and we will take care of you, just give us a few minutes,” Howard asked of the requestor.

By the end of the morning more than 500 meals were delivered outside of the church.

One of the families packing and delivering the meals was the Aaron and Sharon Verigan.

The Verigan’s, who are second year veteran volunteers along with their two children Mariah and Trenton,  made multiple runs before returning to help serve the dine in guests.

“I wanted the children to experience the joy of giving to others,” Sharon said.

Another family helping with the deliveries was Paul Stevens and his family.

“We have been doing this as long as I can remember,” Stevens said, while his wife Jennifer and their daughters were preparing for another delivery.

With the take out meals completed it was now time to turn to their dine-in guests.

The line started to form for the plates of ham, green beans and mashed potatoes. As the plates were served, Joe Smith was calling our to the crowd, “Roll, anybody need a roll? Come over here, this roll has your name on it.”

By noon the dining room was filled with guests.

James Ranton has helped with the luncheons since the FUMC began hosting the community Christmas dinner 16 years ago.

“In the first year, there weren’t very many wh came. By the second year they realized it wasn’t just for the homeless, it was for new people to the community, people alone with no or very little family and those who could not prepare their own meals. Since then it has really grown,” Ranton said. 

Since the early years there are many who return every year to join in the fellowship of the day.

As the morning closed and the guests headed home, many of the volunteers took a moment to sit down and enjoy a meal and share their feelings of success they felt of their efforts to bring a time of giving and joy to the community.