Community comes together to Feed All Souls
As the last plates were being served for Christmas dinner, some dine-in and some take-out, a tired but grateful group of volunteers finally sat down to break bread together.
"We are so blessed,"Jacqueline Hopkins said with tears filling her eyes. "I look around and I just can't believe it. I mean I really can't believe it. Who would've thought we would be here like this, feeding so many people and even the Dixons (Truman and Colleen) eating with us today. It's just so amazing. God is so good."
Feeding All Souls celebrated its eleventh year of feeding anyone who wants food and fellowship on Christmas Day. The event is sponsored by Mt. Olive Star Baptist Church in Checotah under Rev. Samuel L. Cunningham with music by their anointed church choir. Santa was even getting into the "Christmas Spirit" with a little jingle in his steps as he stopped in to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
This year the event was moved to First Free Will Baptist Church Family Life Center which worked out well and even brought in more volunteers from the First Free Will Baptist, the United Methodist Church of Checotah and even the First Assembly of God in Eufaula.
The whole idea started with Jacqueline (Cunningham's younger sister) and Willie Hopkins.
"On Christmas, my wife and I had cooked a big ol' dinner. I smoked some cornish hens and ribs," Willie said. "We also had turkey, ham, dressing, just everything. However, the kids and grandkids didn't come that year and it was just us. We ate so much, we were just stuffed and I said I was never going to do this again. Not if it was just us. So we loaded it all up and took it to Taft."
That seems like a lifetime ago to the Hopkins and the Cunninghams that decided to make this a community event each year.
"Our wedding anniversary is Dec. 23 and we haven't celebrated it in 11 years because we are so busy getting everything ready but we wouldn't want to do anything else," Jacqueline said.
"I wouldn't quit now if I had to," Willie said. "I'd be more worried about people that don't have the means financially and a lot of these people might not get out for the fellowship that they need. That's why we do this and that's why we won't stop."
This year 415 souls were fed and over 50 volunteers helped serve at the community event.
Cunningham was pleased with the turnout and hopes to feed even more next year if the Good Lord is willing.