Church offers free holiday meal

Published 10:56 pm Friday, December 21, 2012

Ruth Lane knows the value of helping others because there was a time when she could not do so.

Cancer treatment took the energy and the joy out of Lane’s life for two years, so when Lane started to bounce back, she knew she wanted to do something for the community.

Lane’s desire led to the beginning of a Christmas Eve meal program at Union Missionary Baptist Church that will mark its third year on Dec. 24.

That day, more than 100 members of the church congregation will prepare dishes and then convene at the church to put together plates that they will deliver to those in the community who are unable to cook for themselves.

Francine Lewis, Lane’s daughter and fellow Union Missionary attendee, said about 150 plates were delivered during the program’s first year, 2010, and the number increased last year.

Among those on the delivery list are local law enforcement and emergency responders who are on the clock during the holidays.

“We just want for everybody to be able to enjoy the Christmas holidays, whether they’re working or sick or whatever,” Lewis said. “This is the season for giving.”

The number of plates delivered don’t include those who are served at the church. Anyone who would like a plate is encouraged to come by the church, located at 110 Liberty Street in Clanton, or to call the church at 755-3910 if delivery is desired.

Everyone in the church decides what to cook, so the plates contain a variety of foods.

Preparation for the effort begins the morning of Christmas Eve, and the church doors will open at about 11 a.m. to allow visitors to come through for food. Deliveries will also begin about 11 a.m. The meal giveaway wraps up at 2 p.m.

Lewis said she intends to prepare ham and macaroni and cheese.

“We have everybody doing their part,” she said. “The church family, they’re real good about helping out. We have youth in the church that are real active as well. We’re teaching them how to give back.”

Doing good for people was the reason behind Lane suggesting the effort. Now, a large group of church members gives up precious time the day before Christmas to help the community.

“I thought it would be something nice to do because we have a lot of our senior citizens that can’t do a Christmas Eve meal,” Lane said. “The whole church enjoys it. It just makes Christmas be Christmas, doing something for others because that’s what Christmas is all about.”

The volunteers end up with a little something also.

“At the end of the day, it feels real good because we don’t know who we brought a smile to,” Lewis said. “With so much gloom going on, it’s nice to be able to do some good for people.”