Hiway 80 holds annual Christmas dinner for families in need

East Texas Rescue Mission Provides Christmas Dinner

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas rescue mission takes steps each year to make sure every Christmas that those in need know someone will help them.

The Hiway 80 Rescue Mission held its annual Family Christmas Dinner on Monday. It’s the organization’s way of letting families in need know they won’t be forgotten on the holidays.

Their faces tell a story of the homeless and needy in Longview. Some people come with children and some have little or nothing during the holidays.

“We’ve been serving Christmas (dinner) on Christmas Eve for quite some time now," siad Rusty Fennell, mission associate director. “It’s also just a way to let them know they’re loved, they’re cared for, and there’s hope during the Christmas season."

Many have no one to go to or spend the holidays with, so this annual dinner gives them more than just a full stomach.

“Today we’re going to be family, whether its kids or adults, we’re going to give everybody a gift," said Mission Director Eric Burger.

It’s a way for the mission to help parents during the holidays, mission workers say.

”If you’re a mom or day and trying to provide Christmas for your children, and you don’t have anything. you’re trying to provide a nice Christmas meal and there’s nothing in the cupboards,” Fennell said.

And for those who volunteer to help with the event it’s a time for reflection, including for the children who volunteer.

“I wanted to serve everything for the homeless because I really do care about the homeless and I want everyone to have food and everything," said 10-year-old volunteer Gracye Rollins.

Some people went away with a full stomach for the first time in days, perhaps weeks.

“What’s really neat is seeing kids serving people, seeing whole families come in and serve. We are in East Texas, a caring group that loves to share with people in need,” Burger said.

Each person was given a gift bag with little items, but for people who have nothing, it meant a lot.

More than 200 people recieved a meal at the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission in Longview, and another 250 were fed at the Tyler mission.

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