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Volunteers exemplify keeping the Christ in Christmas during community giveaway

By Gheni_Platenburg
Dec. 21, 2010 at 6:21 a.m.

One-year-old Danielle Flores helps herself to lunch at Christ's Kitchen just days before Christmas. Volunteers work to make sure that anyone who needs a meal is welcome, and help feed hundreds of people a noon-time meal.

When Lois Brown stopped in at Christ's Kitchen for lunch on Tuesday afternoon, she had no idea she would be leaving with a full stomach and a bag full of Christmas gifts for her and her grandson.

"This is nice," said 62-year-old Brown as she sifted through a pile of clothes looking for a pair of pajamas in her size. "Some people are not able to buy this stuff for themselves."

Brown was one of many people to benefit from Christ's Kitchen's 20th annual Christmas event, held at 611 E. Warren Ave.

Patrons were able to partake in a hearty meal and receive items such as housewares, clothes, food, toiletries, school supplies and toys.

"We're keeping the Christ in Christmas," said Barbara Brooks, one of the founders of Christ's Kitchen. "It's the community helping the community. We're just the vessels."

With about two thirds fewer items than last year to distribute, Brooks, 63, estimated they had enough items to benefit about 300 people.

Brooks said several churches in the community, who have clothing and coat drives throughout the year, donated their unused items, while the food and toiletries were purchased from the Victoria Food Bank.

Members of the Victoria First Church of the Nazarene were on hand to organize and distribute the items to customers.

"I hope we can serve a lot of people today," said Steve Hundley, pastor of the Victoria First Church of the Nazarene. "We're blessed to be able to help the less fortunate in any way we can."

Volunteers were grateful that like in previous years, the weather held out to allow them to hold the event.

"We've been doing this all these years, and it has never rained," said Billie Itz, a member of the Victoria First Church of the Nazarene.

For some recipients like Brown, the items they received will be the only Christmas gifts they receive this year.

"This is it. I don't have anything else," said Brown, who mainly grabbed snack items for her grandson. "By the time I pay my rent and my bills with my little income, I have nothing left. I'm just trying to survive for my grandson."

Based on the crowded event area and the quickly disappearing items, patrons appeared pleased.

"I like the toys," said 5-year-old Haylie Ramirez, who gave a wide, toothless smile while clutching a lunchbox in one hand, and a pair of roller skates in the other.

Her older brother was equally content.

"I really like the Pokémon," said 8-year-old Jose Ramirez, who also grabbed a binder for school at the behest of his mother.

Quoting Matthew 25:37-40 and John 3:36, Brooks said she was just happy they could offer the event.

"I hope the people will be blessed and thankful," she said.



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