Volunteers attract hundreds with free holiday feast in Paragould - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Volunteers attract hundreds with free holiday feast in Paragould

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PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – Hundreds went home full on Christmas Eve thanks to some of Santa's special helpers in Paragould.

Volunteers welcomed people Monday to the Greene County Fairgrounds for the second year in a row.

They hosted a traditional holiday meal to feed people in need or those who have nowhere else to go this Christmas.

The free holiday feast started as an idea from a generous 11-year-old girl's mind.

"Brianna had come to me last year and wanted to know if we could adopt a family, and we had discussed that and we just weren't going to be able to do that last year," Brianna's mother Racheale West recalled. "At Thanksgiving we went and had dinner at [Brianna's] school and we had seen a few kids, and we kind of got the idea that if we couldn't adopt one family then we could help to feed many."

And feed many, they did.

The West family recruited several volunteers last year and organized a dinner in about three weeks. They ended up feeding 286 people.

This year, they expect to serve more than that.

"Our whole family is about giving," West said, "and our kids were raised to help more than to receive. For someone to step out and do that and all these volunteers, it's a true blessing to their heart. They think about it all year long."

Other members of West's family also volunteered, including her aunt, Lorie Davis.

Davis collected about 150 toys and wrapped them herself to give to any children that attended the dinner Monday.

"Years ago, there was a wise man that said life is not about the work you do," Davis said. "Your value's not about the work you do, but it's about what you can give."

What volunteers like "Pud" Williams of Paragould gave this year was a little time cooking a few items for the holiday meal.

"There are so many people that are hurting right now, just to be able to give them a meal at Christmas time," Williams said. "Really, I don't feel like I'm giving up anything. I just want to help all I can."

All the volunteers are already promising to be back again next Christmas to prepare another meal for people in their community.

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