FRANKLIN — Twelve years ago, the Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin served free Christmas dinners to 60 Johnson County neighbors.
This year, even despite the pandemic, the Christmas tradition continued. They could enjoy a hot Christmas dinner for free.
“It’s become part of Christmas. They don’t know Christmas without coming to the church and doing this,” John Boardman said.
It’s a tradition his family kept since the first free dinners were served, and so there was no question about coming out to help again in 2020.
“We thought about a lot of things that were changing and the one thing that we wanted to make sure that was happening was that the church was going to be delivering meals again this year because it’s something we look forward to every year,” Boardman said.
Things at the church look different during the pandemic — dinning in is out — masks, sanitizer and gloves are now in. What has not changed is the willingness. In fact, the willingness to help the community this year seems to have never been greater.
“I think the pandemic has only exposed that loneliness even more and so the dinner helps build a bridge to them,” Senior Pastor Andy Kinsey said.
Before the deliveries went out and cars lined up in the drive-thru, an army of volunteers were busy preparing 1,400 meals. Nina Miller oversees all that goes into preparing the ham dinner.
“It’s such a rewarding day for all of us,” Miller said. Christmas Day dinner this year involves more than 430 deliveries and hundreds of meals served through a drive-thru line.
“We feel in our hearts that we need to help people it’s what we’ve been told to do by the Bible,” Miller said.
Volunteers served 950 meals Friday and delivered about half of them. Any leftover food will be donated to local food pantries.