Giving back on Christmas this season

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Christmas is finally here, and the holiday calls for presents and family gatherings. However, Christmas can also be a cruel reminder to those in need.

In order to assist those who did not get warm Christmas meals, Valley Rescue Mission held their annual Community Christmas Dinner.

The event started with chapel services at 11 a.m. to remember the true reason for Christmas, and the feast began at noon. Turkey, ham, green beans, bread, beverages as well as desserts were available.

In 2012, 435 guests dined at Valley Rescue Mission on 2nd Avenue, and about 540 elderly and shut-in local residents had their meals delivered to their homes. Valley Rescue Mission's director Donna Pearce told News Leader 9 more than a total of 900 meals were made to feed those in need.

"We prepared the meals based upon last year's numbers," Pearce said. "We could not have done this without the generous donations from our community. It truly shows how kind people are in our area."

Pastor Eddie Ruff from My Father's House Christian Center has been volunteering at Valley Rescue Mission for four years in a row. Pastor Ruff brought his children four years ago on Christmas to teach them how to appreciate and help others.

"I wanted my children to know what it was like to be thankful," Pastor Ruff said. "We fell in love with the service, and I started coming back to Valley Rescue Mission to help others on Christmas. It's not about exchanging gifts. It's about loving each other like God has loved us."

Like Pastor Ruff, Amber Massey has been volunteering every Christmas at Valley Rescue Mission with her family for the past five years. Massey said she also wanted to teach her two young sons how to help those in need.

"My favorite part is the 11 o'clock morning chapel services," Massey said. "I like seeing my husband and sons assist our guests, but I absolutely enjoy seeing people listen to the word of God. Jesus is the main reason why we celebrate Christmas in the first place."

Pastor Ruff explained that he encourages his congregation to come out on holidays to volunteer at Valley Rescue Mission.

"I think people have forgotten what it's like to love one another without asking for anything back in return," Pastor Ruff said. "It's my honor to give back to the less fortunate. I know God will look after me, and this is why I can give back every year. I'll volunteer on Christmas until I'm 80 or 90… if that is what it takes to show God's love."

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