Hundreds of hungry people sat down to a traditional holiday meal on Friday during the Central Coast Rescue Mission’s annual Community Christmas Banquet, which aims to serve the area’s needy and low-income community members.
Central Coast Rescue Mission serves hundreds during annual Christmas dinner
By Razi Syed / Santa Maria Times – December 20, 2019
Photos by Lynn Wood
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Held at the Veterans Memorial Hall, the annual dinner was dished up by Central Coast Rescue Mission staff and more than 100 volunteers.
The organization, which provides services to those on the Central Coast who are in poverty or struggle with addiction, hosts the meal each year with help from its community partners.
“We’re going to serving pretty close to 1,000 people here today,” said Jon Bronkowski, director of the Rescue Mission. “We’re blessed to be the host but without the support of the community, and without the collaboration we see here, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
In addition to serving plates full of turkey, mashed potatoes and other traditional sides, volunteers handed out blankets to those in need and the organization gave away hundreds of toys to children.
For Friday’s event, the Rescue Mission prepared roughly 800 pounds of turkey and decorated seven trees that were raffled off to families that weren’t able to get their own Christmas tree this year.
Bronkowski said the event provided an opportunity to spread joy to struggling residents.
“When you come into Christmas and people are celebrating the birth of Christ — whether they know Jesus or not — Jesus is the ultimate source of joy,” he said. “This time of the year, people’s hearts are open and a little more ready to both serve and be served.”
Seven children from Pine Grove Elementary School also participated in the Rescue Mission banquet, handing out socks to those in need that had been collected by students this holiday season.
Allie Doerksen, a third-grade teacher at Pine Grove, said several students came up with the idea of putting on a sock-drive this year.
“We collected about 500 pairs of socks,” she said. “I was calling around to find a place to go donate them when the students said, ‘Wait, we want to go out and give them out.’”
Sixth-grader Hunter Daubin-Garber, 12, said he was happy he and his classmates found a way to give back to the community.
Sixth-grader Van Malone, 12, said it was great to see so many kids participate in the sock drive.
“We got 576 total pairs of socks,” he said. “Everybody contributed and everybody had a pair of socks to give.”