Paragould family serves Christmas dinners in honor of loved one

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - It all started with just a random act of kindness around the holiday season leading the Milligan family to start a meaningful tradition in honor of their father, Jim Milligan, who was battling cancer and passed away in 2004.

Daughter-in-law Julie Milligan said the unknown family brightened their spirits and their act of kindness will never be forgotten.

"It's been exactly 12 years ago, this December, that my father-in-law Jim Milligan had surgery at UAMS," she said. "As we were there over the Christmas holidays, a couple of weeks after his surgery, we weren't thinking about Christmas or the festivities of the holidays but a family who we did not know brought in a traditional Christmas meal."

From then on, the Milligan family decided to give back to the community by bringing in "a taste of Christmas' for anyone who is not able to have a traditional holiday meal due to illness of a loved one. The Milligan family has delivered the meals every Christmas Eve at the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould.

"We loaded up the car with turkey and dressing and ham and all of its trimmings and take it up to the hospital," she said. "We leave an explanation there in the ICU unit for the family members who have loved ones in the hospital."

Keith Milligan said his father was a local barber and a community leader. The family that received the meal has been at the hospital for some time but that one random act of kindness from a stranger put everyone in good spirits.

"That one little glimpse of that meal that day kind of let everybody know the world wasn't just going on that someone else did care," he said. "Strangers can make the greatest impression....that's really what Christmas is about."

The Milligan family says they plan to serve more Christmas dinners at the hospital during the next holiday season and they hope their own children will continue the tradition in giving back.

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