Jessamine County Homeless Coalition hosts first Christmas dinner

Published 3:21 pm Thursday, December 29, 2022

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After two community Thanksgiving dinners, the Jessamine County Homeless Coalition (JCHC) added a Christmas dinner at the Jessamine County Public Library to its holiday programming.

Just before the bomb cyclone hit Jessamine County, the JCHC fed 505 people on Thursday, Dec 22, with a complete holiday meal. Ham, turkey, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli casserole and macaroni and cheese filled the bellies of locals.

JCHC Director Johnny Templin said this event was relatively last-minute compared to the November dinner; this caused the organization to struggle with getting enough volunteers and food ahead of the Christmas holiday.

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“You know, after Thanksgiving, your mind is stuck on Christmas presents and travel plans,” Templin said.

Next year, Templin said he would work harder to promote the event and start buying supplies for Christmas long before December.

According to the JCHC Director of operations, April McCubbins, preparing the E Maple Street emergency shelter for the storm also slowed down the team.

“I think that trying to do both things at one time kind of put us a little bit behind.” McCubbins said, “We were trying to play catch up.”

Still, the JCHC received help from 70 volunteers and only ran out of sides at the end of the dinner.

“The community, as usual, stepped up to make sure that we had enough volunteers to serve the dinner and serve the guests that came.”

McCubbins said that people who the JCHC wouldn’t usually see stepped up to help. “We had some last minute out of the blue just show up and go ‘hand me five turkeys, I’ll take them home and cook them for you.’” She said this couldn’t have been done without the community.”

Templin said that the JCHC only had to pay $500 out of pocket because of community donations for the dinner. McCubbins believes this has to do with people who couldn’t donate during Thanksgiving, doing so for Christmas instead.

According to Templin, the 505 people fed included 41 people who received meal deliveries at the Rose Terrace Assisted Living Lodge and 240 served through the library’s drive-thru window.

This dinner was the first time the JCHC used a drive-thru window. Even on Thanksgiving, Templin said that half of the meals were served to-go. He was inspired by a news report on the Catholic Action Center, which exclusively served to-go meals.

Templin said that even though the dinner was meant to be a community event, he knew there was still a need from people who didn’t want to eat inside the library, which is how the idea of using the drive-thru was born.