LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Dozens of people spent their holiday making sure others had a Merry Christmas. Volunteers served a hot meal to the needy during the annual Salvation Army Christmas lunch.
It's a holiday tradition, from the hundreds who attend to the dozens of volunteers who give up their time each Christmas to serve others. Whether it's a hot meal, toys for the kids, or warm clothes for adults, this year the Salvation Army says they're prepared to serve 800 people on Christmas Day. While some volunteers spend the afternoon serving meals, others deliver Christmas lunch to the elderly, or those who are unable to travel.
The whole event takes hours to set up and lasts all afternoon. For many it's a chance to gather together with friends and family, and simply be loved on.
"People who come to the dinner are homeless, people who have lost a spouse, elderly who are unable to cook or struggle on a fixed income," explains Major Debra Ashcraft with the Salvation Army. "We have families, single women, single men... just a variety of people and there is a beautiful spirit of love."
The Salvation Army has been putting on the Christmas Lunch for about 50 years now, thanks to the support of over 150 volunteers who graciously give their time to help others.
For the volunteers it's about much more than simply giving back. It's about building lasting relationships, creating memories that last a lifetime, and celebrating the joy of the season together as one big happy family. A family that isn't measured by blood, but by the heart.
For long time volunteer Rondolyn Keita, who has been serving with the Salvation Army for five years now, it's about relationships and the spirit of Christmas.
"I think it makes them feel special," says Keita, "like they're the most important thing in the room."
Keita's dedication to the Salvation Army goes so deep, she sacrificed spending time with her own family to serve. A sentiment that many volunteers share this holiday season, because they know just how much their sacrifice could mean to a stranger.
"When you're having a hard time," explains Major Ashcraft, "and someone's helping you, it really lifts your spirits. It gives you hope to know that people care about you."
It's a day when helping others in their time of need, could have more of an impact on the waiters and waitresses, than the guests of honor.