Metroplex Health System in Killeen served a free Christmas meal to staff who worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The hospital’s nutrition services staff also prepared a special holiday meal for the patients.

“We offer a traditional meal of turkey, dressing, green beans, stuffing and roast beef,” said Nutrition Supervisor Debra Downing. “For the patients, we use Christmas-themed plates and silverware and put an ornament on every tray. Everybody deserves a special meal on Christmas.”

And Metroplex CEO Carlyle Walton made sure they got one. For one evening and afternoon every year, Walton goes from the boardroom to the serving line, serving 88 employees on Christmas Eve and lunch to all employees working Christmas Day.

“It is fun and another way to recognize the people who work so hard every day. We get a lot of the credit, but they do all the work,” he said.

None of the hospital employees seemed bothered about working on Christmas.

“They try to be fair,” said Maria Weilend, who has worked as a nurse at Metroplex for three years. “They try to rotate us, so if you worked on Christmas last year, or Thanksgiving this year, they take that into consideration.”

Not every employee had to be coaxed to work the holiday. Regine Campbell has been a cashier in the cafeteria for almost five years. She volunteered to work on Christmas so her co-worker could have the day off.

“I volunteered this year because we have a young cashier with family up in Chicago,” Campbell said. “I am from Central Texas, so this is my family.”

As Campbell and Walton helped feed the staff, maintenance worker Maria Cihaka was finishing up her rounds before heading to the cafeteria. She said she had no problem working on Christmas.

“It’s called teamwork,” Cihaka said. “Everybody who works here is important. Without us the hospital would not be clean. Without doctors and nurses, patients would not get better. Everybody has to pitch in.”

“It’s not hard because we know we’re helping people,” added maintenance worker Sara Harris.

Contact Mason Lerner at or (254) 501-7567

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