While many people were opening presents, eating, and enjoying the company of family this Christmas, one organization was making the holidays better for the less fortunate.
Hosea’s Feed the Hungry and the Homeless Christmas dinner, held in Atlanta, served 20,000 people this Christmas. The Feed the Hungry dinner began in 1970 by Rev. Hosea Williams, a famous civil rights leader who marched with Dr. King, to feed Atlanta’s homeless and hungry.
“He wanted to let them know someone in Atlanta loves them,” said Amy Smith, the organization’s office manager.
Started in a soup kitchen, the dinner is now held at Turner Field in Atlanta. Initially serving 95 percent black men, the event has become culturally diverse. It now serves 25 percent whites, 25 percent females, and 20 percent children. Since Hosea Williams’ death, his daughter, Elisabeth Omilami, has become executive director and carried on her father’s tradition.
The program continues to grow and now offers several services to homeless people. In addition to dinner, the homeless can enjoy live entertainment, take a shower, or get their hair done or cut, all free of charge. The program tries to help the homeless in every way.
“We offer medical and dental services and we also have a telephone center so people can call a loved one free of charge,” said Charlotte Hazard, organizational head of fund-raising and development.
The organization also delivers food to the sick and shut-in.
According to volunteers, putting the event together is hard work. The volunteers have to be prepared for anything.
“We get there early in the morning and have to be ready to deal with all kinds of people,” Smith said. Hosea’s Feed the Hungry and Homeless extends throughout the entire year, combating homelessness. “We serve dinner four times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King Holiday and Easter,” Hazard said.
The organization is always accepting donations, including food, clothing, and services.