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Hartselle Church of Christ feeds hundreds on Christmas Day

 

From left, Joyce Breeding, Rebecca Kirk, Lynne Borden, Rosemary Kirk and Nina Johnson load plates with food in preparation for the Christmas meal deliveries at the Hartselle Church of Christ on Christmas Day. | Joy Haynes
From left, Joyce Breeding, Rebecca Kirk, Lynne Borden, Rosemary Kirk and Nina Johnson load plates with food in preparation for the Christmas meal deliveries at the Hartselle Church of Christ on Christmas Day. | Joy Haynes

Hartselle Church of Christ prepared hundreds of meals for local families and individuals on Christmas Day.

Over 650 meals of chicken and dressing, ham, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, broccoli and cheese casserole, rolls and desserts were boxed and delivered or picked up. Leftover desserts were distributed to Childhaven and other local groups.

Names and addresses of recipients were gathered from Meals on Wheels, the Committee on Church Cooperation, residents of the Morgan County and Hartselle Housing Authorities, the Morgan County Commission on Aging and several other people throughout the Hartselle area.

Hartselle Church of Christ has been preparing Christmas meals for the past several years.

Tim and Jeni Nelson started the project after having family members on Meals on Wheels. They knew Meals on Wheels did not deliver on Christmas, and they began to wonder about how many Meals on Wheels recipients would not only be alone on Christmas, but also without a Christmas meal.

They approached the elders at Hartselle Church of Christ, asking them if the church could help provide meals for the recipients. The elders liked the idea, and told them they would help with the project if the Nelsons headed it up.

The project leadership has since changed hands, but the project is still growing each year. More lists of recipients have been added and more volunteers show up to help each year.

About 100-150 volunteers cook the food, box the meals, prepare the routes, deliver the food and clean up the preparation room. Jane Walker, a member of Hartselle Church of Christ and a volunteer during the Christmas meal preparation, said the project is a group effort.

“There are so many people helping out from start to finish,” Walker said. “The pans are set out for members to pick up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Everything is completely funded by the members, which is really a big deal. This much food costs a lot, but the entire church splits it up. There are also plenty of people working quietly behind the scenes before the food is actually boxed and deliveries are made.”

Walker took over calling the Meals on Wheels recipients to find out how many meals they would need on Christmas.

“I was in the right place at the right time when I got involved with the preparation,” Walker said. “My kids had participated since they were young, and I felt like doing this on Christmas made a difference to my kids. They really benefitted from getting to help out, and I wanted it to continue. When we realized Tim and Jeni [Nelson] wouldn’t be able to do it anymore, we decided we wanted to keep it going. Jeni was able to show us how to do it, and I volunteered to make the phone calls. I knew that was something I could do even if I didn’t feel like I could cook well or plan it.”

Phillip Hines, preacher at Hartselle Church of Christ, said the church the church receives a lot of positive results from the meal deliveries.

“We always get a few cards telling us thank you from the recipients or their relatives, but the best feedback is the smiles and happiness of the people we get to deliver to,” Hines said. “It’s a two-way street really though, because we are helping others in our community, but we are also being blessed ourselves. I started helping with the delivery part on the third year, and it’s the best. Everyone seems to love getting to help out, and it is a great service we can provide.”

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