On Christmas Day, a hot meal can mean so much to so many.
With thousands in need, one group came up with a plan to bring the relief straight to their neighborhoods.
NBC 5 followed volunteers as they started Christmas morning preparing for the day’s big mission.
“It’s going be a good day today,” said Don Knubowitz, who helped start the Give A Leg Up charity group several years ago.
It all began when Knubowitz and his family and friends were delivering meals on Thanksgiving 2013 near Fair Park but soon ran out before he could feed everyone.
Determined to not let the same thing happen weeks later at Christmas, Knubowitz worked with Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church and arranged to have three food trucks serve hundreds of meals.
And now for a fourth year in a row, Give A Leg Up has grown to put Christmas on “wheels” and bring hot meals to the streets of Dallas.
“We’re also bringing water, fruit, clothing, socks, shoes, gloves, hats — doing anything we can so that when the cold weather comes we can take care of those families,” said Pastor Kenneth King of Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church.
Steffani Bailin has volunteered since the beginning. She said because she is of Jewish faith, she likes to spend the Christmas holiday volunteering.
On Christmas, we found her organizing small bouquets of flowers to help bring a little extra love to those in need.
“Because when you’re hungry, you don’t think about things like this. You think, ‘you’re not able to get flowers, that’s for other people,'” Bailin said. “But this is such a nice, extra treat that they normally wouldn’t have.”
After sorting donated food from businesses like Trader Joe’s, Market Street and Starbucks, the volunteers ride in a caravan to three locations around the South Dallas and downtown area.
“I felt love, I felt appreciated and they made me feel pretty,” said Julie Ann Mitchell, who received some fresh flowers and snacks from volunteers.
Once on-site, the volunteers set up different stations for families to grab clothes, drinks, and snacks to go. Others are walking around and handing toiletry bags directly to individuals to make sure everyone’s needs are met.
One of the most innovative things about this effort is the food trucks. Four different trucks — Parrot Icce, Spin Sushi, 7 Sisters Gourmet Street Food and Jack’s Chow Hound — donated their time and resources to cook up more than 2,000 meals and deliver them straight to the people so that no one goes without food.
“I think this is a blessing from God,” said Ronald Luckey, who is currently living in the streets. “God sent them our way, God knows he taking care of us he watching over us.”
Craig Berry used to be homeless and stayed at the Austin Street Shelter, one of the feeding locations for Give A Leg Up. He stopped by to see the same efforts that helped him get off the streets.
“A lot of them, all they need is just an opportunity which society is not willing to give right now,” he said.
Seeing moments like this is what he says Christmas is all about.
“It’s just beautiful to see people coming together like this for people that they don’t even know and they decide to say ‘Hey, we can serve because we’ve been blessed so we’re just giving back,”‘ said Berry.
Give A Leg Up relies on the help of food trucks, donations and volunteers to keep the mission rolling every year at Christmas and Thanksgiving. If you’re interested in helping or becoming a volunteer, click here.
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