5,000 Christmas meals served at Glide in SF

December 25, 2012 8:37:52 PM PST
Around 5,000 Christmas meals were served Tuesday at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. Volunteers were up early to prepare the meals.

With holiday greetings, festive costumes and the traditional Christmas ham, in the basement dining room where Glide Memorial Church serves 364 meals a year the one thing that was not different about Christmas is the people dining.

"We serve a lot of the same people that we serve year round and so we have really created family with the people in our community where you know the holidays, we spend together," Glide Community Building Program Director Jean Cooper said.

Greg Allen joined that family a year ago, when he came up short on cash.

The city is expensive to eat in, I'm not going to lie," Allen said.

And while there are other places to get a gravy-slathered Christmas turkey, this one feels like home. As people come for the food and stay for the community, sometimes the line between guests and volunteers becomes blurry -- as in the case of one man who says he's been coming here for 20 years.

"When I first got here I didn't have no food or nothing and everybody told me about, 'Go to Glide, you can eat,' all that stuff, and I felt guilty about eating," Van Johnson said.

So Johnson started doing the dishes as part of an army of volunteers -- carving, slicing, scooping and serving. It's an army, as he sees it, under one commander:

"The lord; the lord is the one providing food for us, that's how I feel about it," Johnson said.

That spirituality and spirit spread to the Arizona State football team, who volunteered as they prepared to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

"It just helps me realize how blessed I am and just how thankful I am that I'm able to come out here and help serve others and help those who are less fortunate," right tackle Billy McGehee said.

Whatever uniform you wear, the Rev. Cecil Williams says it's teamwork that lets these volunteers do god's work.

"You never think that you can do things on your own or by yourself; it's always with others that we can do it," Williams said.


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