TEMPLE — Heather Newman and her children — Jasmine, 7, and Isaac, 6 — enjoyed a holiday meal Wednesday at the Health and Hope for the Holiday Thanksgiving Dinner.
“We came last year and we really enjoyed it,” Newman said. “It definitely helps a lot of people in the community.”
There are some people who won’t have a Thanksgiving dinner and it helps to be around other people and know you’re not alone, she said.
“That’s why I come,” Newman said.
This was the 12th year for the event. Turkey, ham, dressing with vegetables and dessert were offered, along with other services.
The community really comes together for the dinner and everybody does their part, she said.
Local agencies such as the HELP Center, Family Promise, Central Counties Center MHMR (Mental Health Mental Retardation) and Temple Housing Authority were on hand to provide information about what the organization offered.
“This has been a hard year for us and my family is in Minnesota,” Newman said. “It’s a little rough around the holidays and it’s nice to be around new people and share stories. It encourages me.”
Newman was working, but her hours kept getting cut. She’s decided to go back to school and plans to enroll in Temple College this spring to work toward completing a degree in civil engineering.
Before the family left, they were planning on picking up a couple of blankets.
“As it gets colder, the electricity bill goes up and those extra blankets help,” she said.
Kay Langford, representing the Warmth for the Winter program, was at the dinner handing out blankets, socks, coats, knit hats and gloves.
Warmth for the Winter collects blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, coats, gloves and hats from Nov. 1 to Jan. 1 to give to people who are sleeping outdoors or in homes with inadequate heat. New or gently used items and monetary donations may be dropped off at any Temple fire station.
There were wool blankets from the Salvation Army and cotton blankets from Scott & White.
“Scott & White said they could keep us supplied, so we’re real excited,” Langford said.
A large number of sleeping bags already have been given out this year, she said.
“We’ve used the money this year to buy socks and stocking caps, because everybody always needs a pair of socks,” Langford said. “We really need to buy some gloves.”
For those who live outside, everything they have got wet during the recent inclement weather, she said.
Robyn Hurst with Scott & White was set up to give flu shots.
“At last year’s dinner we gave about 60 shots,” Hurst said. “This year we’re ready to give 100.”
Vada Thomas and a number of adults and youngsters from Eighth Street Baptist Church were on hand to volunteer.
“We’ll do whatever they need us to do,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she had been looking for something worthwhile for her grandchildren to do during the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I went church Sunday and lo and behold this dinner was announced,” she said. “I said ‘Thank you, Lord.’ He looked into it for me.”
About 500 people were expected to be served at the Health and Hope for the Holidays dinner.
The dinner is sponsored by Temple Walmart Super Center, Walmart Distribution Center and Sam’s Club in partnership with Central Texas Homeless Alliance, American Red Cross and Hope for the Hungry.