It's what the holidays are all about – helping neighbors in need.
More than 115 people were served a hot meal at the Our Daily Bread Dining Room of M.O.T.'s Pre-Launch Christmas Meal Monday afternoon.
The soup kitchen opened its doors for the first time Dec. 17 at its temporary, yet permanent location at the Dale United Methodist Church in Middletown, serving turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, string beans, cookies, soup, turkey, and more to those in need of a hearty meal.
"Our goal is to combat hunger in the M.O.T. area and give families a better quality of life," said program developer and implementer Dr. Zelda Carter. "When your stomach hurts, your head hurts."
For the foreseeable future the non-profit organization, led by Middletown town planner Tim DeSchepper, will serve a hot meal twice a month at the Lake Street church, Carter said. Starting in January, meals will be served on the first and third Monday of every month from noon to 2 p.m.
"Every family got a loaf of sweat bread to take home with them as a gift," Carter said.
About 20 volunteers came together to help with the long awaited soup kitchen's launch, including supporters of the M.O.T. Big Ball Marathon, St. Joseph's Church and the Power 4 U Community Center.
Along with food, about 125 jackets were given away and so were toys for children.
Most of the coats were new, and they were all donated as a community effort, Carter said.
Carter herself donated 50 brand new jackets.
Residents, the church and the Middletown Volunteer Hose Company donated the toys, and the Super Giant grocery store donated more than 300 loaves of sweet bread, which were given as gifts to all of the families Monday.
"The whole town just came together," Carter said.
Planning for Our Daily Bread began about two years ago when DeSchepper saw how many families in the M.O.T. area relied on food pantries each week.
The new soup kitchen will be the first of its kind – a permanent fixture – for the Middletown area.
All are welcome to come for a free hot meal. There is no discrimination.
On Monday, the homeless, volunteers, community members, and town employees all ate together under the same roof – talking with each other and encouraging those going through rough times.
Several elected officials also attended the lunch, some leaving with to-go boxes.