Church holds annual Christmas dinner for Columbia community

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COLUMBIA - The members of St. Luke Methodist Church exchanged more than just presents when they held their eighth annual Christmas dinner Tuesday.

Volunteers served favorite holiday dishes like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes along with other donated food.

Kristin Gadsden said she took part because it was a great opportunity for her family to serve the community.

“It helps us to think about giving rather than receiving,” she said.

Volunteers Adrienne Hamlin and Eli Black said they have a lot to give back for.

"Because we have so many blessings, we want to spread them to the community," Black said.

The event paired those in need with warm clothing and other goods.

Attendees brought gently used clothing, shoes, toys, games and school supplies.

Kaye Thompson, one of the coordinators, said she decided to create the event when she noticed there was no community Christmas dinner in Columbia. 

“I just feel like it’s a really big need. And I really enjoy it,” she said.

Volunteer Vanessa Brown has known Thompson for years, and said it was always one of her friend's dreams to hold the event.

“The world needs to see the goodness and people's hearts that they’re willing to give to others. And that’s what you’ll see today," she said.

As a special surprise this year, Brown was given 60 envelopes with $5 in them to pass out to those in need.

The church wasn’t alone in planning the event. Other churches and volunteers in the community partnered with St. Luke’s, such as Community United Methodist, Missouri United Methodist and Fairview United Methodist.

More than 150 people attended this year. Thompson said every year more and more people come.

She said she will continue to hold the event as long as there are people in need.