Community gathers for H-E-B's 21st annual Feast of Sharing

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Dec. 19, 2011 at 6:19 a.m.

Monte Randall passes plates of food at the Feast of Sharing on Monday at the Victoria Community Center.

Monte Randall passes plates of food at the Feast of Sharing on Monday at the Victoria Community Center.

Leslie Rivera and her three children hunkered down at the end of a long row of families anxiously awaiting holiday dinner Monday.

A strong whiff of hot apple pie and fresh, warm rolls wrapped around them as it passed by on a cart at H-E-B's 21st Feast of Sharing was almost too much to handle.

"Three, two, one ... let's eat!" shouted emcee Gary Moses to the hundreds already sitting and the hundreds cramming through the Victoria Community Center's front doors.

For Rivera, this was a first-time feast.

Her kids, however, have been to this familiar event before.

"I like it," Rivera said, a smile stretched across her face as more than 300 volunteers scurried across the floor handing out meals. "I love spending time with my family."

Doug Wallace, general manager of the H-E-B Plus on Navarro Street, was optimistic of the growing crowd.

"It looks like we've had one of the biggest opening crowds," Wallace said. "We're hoping that's a good sign."

Monica Garcia, her children and mother-in-law have attended the feast for the past several years and love the food and activity for the children.

"We're so grateful for it and everybody that helps," Garcia said.

Santa Claus also paid a visit to the Feast of Sharing and gave kids presents after their Christmas dinner.

Bands gave live performances while families ate, as well.

Also, this year, there were book giveaways. The giveaways were part of a literacy program trying to get children to read more often.

This year's goal was to serve at least 5,000 meals. A mobile kitchen waited out back in case they surpassed the goal, Wallace said.

No matter what, people would not be leaving hungry, Wallace said.

"Just watching the folks visit and the smiles on their faces is very gratifying," Wallace said.



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