Christmas starts bright and early for Todd Tuflija and the volunteers that fill the Mid City Concerns Meals on Wheels kitchen downtown on Second Avenue. They're up at 5:00 AM prepping for the big Christmas meal that is put on there each year for seniors and the homeless.
"What I have told people is come down spend two hours and your life will change," said Tuflija.
Todd works quickly to get things organized and get everyone a job. He says there are a lot of familiar faces each year that help out. For many families it has become a holiday tradition.
"We've had several volunteers that have been here multiple years, and each year, we get more and more. Today I have eight people in the kitchen working which is a record, normally there are four to six but today there are eight," said Tuflija.
That's a good thing. They had a lot to do this Christmas morning, getting ready to serve folks like Gladys Thomas. Gladys comes to the Mid City Concerns every day for dinner, but today is special. It means the world to her that she gets to share Christmas dinner with great company, and the food, it's just like mom would make.
"We've got ham, mashed, potatoes, candy carrots, you name it we've got it," said Thomas.
Something pretty amazing happens here, the kitchen at Meals on Wheels serves dinner for the seniors and the homeless. It's usual workload, the food that goes out to Meals on Wheels recipients, gets cooked and prepped at Plymouth Congregational Church on Sixth Avenue, says Pastor Gary Gardell.
"We're using our kitchen, their people, and the organizational gifts of both groups. We have fun taking these meals out to people on Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving," said Gardell.
It's a feel-good operation. Perhaps, one of the best by products of what happens here is the lesson it teaches us about Christmas, especially to the youngest of helpers.
"I think that's a real plus to see the kids come through. Kids look forward to Christmas because of what they get and if you can start teaching them young that it is also a time to give, I think that is a great lesson," said Gardell.