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Volunteers opened their hearts in downtown Bluefield Tuesday to provide Christmas dinner for people who otherwise would have been alone on the holiday.
Open Heart Ministries served its second annual free Christmas dinner at the Internet Cafe in downtown Bluefield. Paula Mlynczak, president of Open Heart Ministries, said the ministry started serving the meals to reach out to the local homeless and those who would spend the holiday without friends or family.
“Last year, we served 25 to 30 people and this year we are expecting to serve at least 50,” Mlynczak said. “We take care of the homeless in this area. The cafe brings in all sorts of people. We feed these people 365 days a year.”
Mlynczak said the Christmas season exemplifies what the ministry is all about.
“The main thing is, Jesus Christ told us to do this,” she said. “We are doing what he would do if he were here today. He told us that if we are hungry, he would feed us and if we were cold he would give us a coat to keep us warm. Christmas is about family and the birth of Jesus. There are families to don’t have what we have. A lot of the people who live at West Virginia Manor don’t have anyone to celebrate the holiday with. Their families live in other places. We sit them down at the table together. It gives them that family experience and being with others on the holiday.”
Dishes of ham, turkey, green beans, rolls, stuffing, collard greens, green beans, and yams were passed back and forth down the tables between volunteers and visitors invited in for the meal.
Billie Bowman was one of many invited down to enjoy the meal.
“I was going to be by myself on Christmas,” Bowman said. “I just wanted to be with friends today. It is a special day. Christmas is a time to be thankful for what you have and for those who help us.”
Martha Farmer said the meal gave her the chance to fellowship with others.
“This is the day the Lord has made, and the day when Jesus Christ was born,” Farmer said. “To me, Christmas is a very special day. It’s good to gather with friends on this holiday.”
Kenneth Tyson was one of many who came from West Virginia Manor to partake in the meal.
“My social worker told me about it,” he said. “Today is my mother’s birthday, but she lives in Washington D.C. with my aunt and uncle. I just came here to spend time with others.”
Ronald Cummings came to help volunteer and enjoy spending his holiday making new friends.
“I was here to help serve and just do something for God,” he said. “It’s Christmas, and the most important thing is the birth of our Lord and Savior. More important than that is the fact that he died on the cross for us. This helps us fellowship and show compassion for our fellow man. We want everyone here to know they are important.”
The event was co-sponsored by Open Heart Ministries; Food City in Bluefield, Va.; Kroger in Bluewell and Princeton; Walmart in Bluefield, Va.; Staples in Bluefield, Va.; Save-A-Lot in Brushfork; Pepsi Cola Bottling Company in Princeton; Sam’s of Bluefield, Va., and First Baptist Church of Tazewell, Va.