Nearly 1,000 homeless and low-income people lined up at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall on Christmas night to enjoy a warm Christmas dinner.
For some, including Richard Greenlaw, it would be the best meal they’ve had all year.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said the man, who is homeless. “I’m tremendously grateful. This really makes you realize how we can be to each other.”
This is the 15th year volunteers at Catholic Community Services have hosted the annual Christmas dinner, with steak, potatoes and rolls donated by the Church, as well as pie, hot chocolate, coffee and other sides donated by the Grand America Hotel.
Piles of clothing — coats, sweaters, hats, socks, mittens — and even toys were handed out after patrons finished their meals.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, was among those who volunteered for the dinner, busing plates back and forth in the crowded dining hall. President Uchtdorf said he and his wife, Harriet, volunteer at the dining hall multiple times throughout the year.
“We just wanted to spend the day with these wonderful people,” he said. “Sometimes it’s even a smile that feeds more than a steak.”
President Uchtdorf added that it’s important to help those in need all year long, not just on Christmas.
“If we can help a little bit here to spread a little warmth and the great feeling of Christmas, that’s perfect,” he said. “But every one of us has to reach out and try to help wherever we can. There are a lot of needs in the world.”
Pamela Atkinson, dinner organizer and a longtime advocate for people experiencing homelessness, said more than 800 volunteers showed up to help this year — so many, that some had to be turned away.
“More and more people come out every year. To many of us, this is the greatest gift we can give on Christmas Day,” she said.