Christmas dinner served to one and all
MICHIGAN CITY – On Christmas day, more than a dozen volunteers and staff members spent their holiday providing meals to those less fortunate in the community.
Funded solely by donations, Michigan City Holiday Meals provided nine turkeys, 12 hams, 120 lbs of sweet potatoes (fresh from Arkansas), seven cases of collard greens, eight pans of stuffing, several pans of corn bread, 30 cakes and pies and even a pot of spaghetti – prepared and served by 18 cooks. Food was sourced through many different places including Gordons Food Service, Save a Lot, Walmart, Meijer, Al’s and Kroger.
MCHA offers a variety of programs and services to aid families while preserving multi-family housing and affordable rentals. Around 200 people live in the complex, where applicants from Michigan City are considered first. They offer Rent-to-Own programs to promote first-time home ownership for moderate income families.
And for the past 37 years, they have served Michigan City Holiday Meals, whose founder, Mary Garner, was among those preparing food Tuesday.
“It’s a great feeling to help others,” Garner said. “I remember the first guy who came here. We had put flyers up at the South Shore. He said his family didn’t have anywhere to go and he saw our flyer, brought them down here and was so grateful.”
Event coordinator Megan Adkins has worked with the organization for two years. She started cooking at 6 a.m. at her home, with the assistance of her three children, all age 10.
“We work as a team,” she said, “my three children helped so much with carrying food, serving, cleaning and cutting pies.”
Adkins even bought food out of her own pocket to serve.
“It’s rewarding when you hear someone say ‘Thank you’, they really appreciate us,” she said.
The Michigan City Housing Authority provided the venue, and also delivered meals to people who could not physically be there. The Michigan City Police Department lent the assistance of 10 officers to deliver meals around the city.
Michigan City Holiday Meals also provided a Thanksgiving dinner in November, which served 420 people, and is already planning Easter meals.
Volunteer baker Sue Novak has helped with desserts for six years.
“My favorite part is working with everyone,” she said. “We have fun, they’re good people to be with, and we have a great relationship with each other. It’s good to give back to the community and help others.”
Out of all the various cakes Novak baked, she said the German chocolate was the most popular.
“There was a man that came here, and I asked if he wanted dessert. He said ‘No, unless you have German chocolate,’ and I gave him a slice. He was so surprised!” Novak said with a smile.
Longtime volunteer and board member Shalonda Morrow has worked with the organization for 20 years.
“Seeing all the people we help, we get to meet new people and talk with them, people we may not see otherwise,” she said. “I remember a lady hairstylist with several kids. I told them to come down and they were so appreciative, she said it was the best Thanksgiving dinner they ever had, and providing her with that meal, there’s nothing like the good feeling you get.”
Major donations by the Unity Foundation, Dr. Kora of the Franklin Clinic, and Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church helped make the Christmas dinner possible. Pastor James Lane of the Pleasant Hill Church even provided kitchens for the cooks. The church also provides a soup kitchen every Wednesday, another place Adkins volunteers.
Donations of money or time are always welcome, and those interested can call (219) 229-1785.