Hard working volunteers in the Mohawk Valley have been making it their mission to spread Christmas cheer for more than 30 years. This year in Utica the need is greater than ever before. Cara Thomas takes us to the Rescue Mission, where more than 1,000 people were served with food and the spirit of the holidays.
UTICA, N.Y. -- While many people are home with their families on Christmas opening presents and eating their holiday feasts, others aren't as fortunate. So for those who can’t afford a Christmas meal or won’t receive a gift this year, the Rescue Mission of Utica has opened its doors.
Utica resident Keith Moie, said, "The Rescue Mission they're always there for us. They help the homeless, people who ain't got nowhere to go. Without this, a lot of people would be lost, I'm telling you."
Executive Director of the Rescue Mission of Utica Reverend Bill Dodge said, "And that's what today will do to is help people who may be struggling to get by to just relax and let us say Merry Christmas to them with a meal and some love from the people from this community."
More than 1,000 meals were served, about 300 were served restaurant style and 700 were delivered to people who could not leave their homes.
"That might be the only person they ever see on Christmas Day is that family or that couple that brings that Styrofoam container. So they stick around for a few minutes and many of them come back and say I'm so glad somebody came to see me on Christmas," said Dodge.
Not only did each individual receive a plate full of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, but everyone received a small gift: A blanket, hat or a pair of socks.
But the recipients of this Christmas meal aren't the only ones benefiting from this event. New and experienced volunteers also learned a thing or two.
Reverend Dodge said, "They love to teach their family that this is what you should do on Christmas. This is what the spirit of Christmas really is, is giving to people in need."
This Christmas dinner is the only one in Utica. Residents and volunteers say they're blessed to be a part of it every year.