Dozens of members of the Salem Lutheran Church on Sunday set aside their newly unwrapped Christmas presents in order to prepare and partake in a holiday meal with the local homeless.
The second annual Christmas feast drew about 200 people, including several families with young children, from local social service agencies such as PATH Achieve Glendale, New Horizons Family Center and Catholic Charities. Also present were residents of Solheim Lutheran Home in Eagle Rock.
"We have a much better turn out this year, and we have a lot more donations," said volunteer Gary Barseghian. "We are really happy."
Volunteers served a full Christmas dinner, including ham, potatoes, green beans and bread, as well as cookies, cake and pumpkin pie.
"I'm about to pop," said one diners as he approached the dessert table. "I've eaten three plates of food."
Guests also worked their way through donated clothing, shoes, books and toys, much of which was gone by the dinner's end.
The Christmas meal was one of two holiday meals prepared by Salem Lutheran Church. The church also hosts a Thanksgiving day feast, said associate pastor Sarah Sumner-Eisenbraun.
"Our Thanksgiving feast was full and this is even bigger," Sumner-Eisenbraun said.
Among the volunteers helping to serve food and clear plates were two dozen school-aged children.
"One of the things we are doing is to get the small kids out here to get a sense that there are people out there who don't have what they have," volunteer Tracey Germond said.
It always feel good to help out, especially during the holiday season, she said.
"You forget how much you have until you see people who don't," Germond said.
Volunteers said they hope to continue to grow the event in order to meet the needs of the local community. High unemployment and a slow economic recovery continue to put a strain on families, said volunteer David Starleaf.
"You would think a thousand more people in Glendale would use this, it is just a question of getting the word out about resources," Starleaf said.