UGM gears up to feed hundreds at Christmas Eve dinner

UGM gears up to feed hundreds at Christmas Eve dinner
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Chefs were hard at work in the Union Gospel Mission kitchen on Tuesday, preparing a Christmas Eve dinner fit to feed hundreds of people.

Of the four shelters between Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, chefs say they plan to feed almost 400 people.

With that many, it’s a feast that’s taken days to prepare, said Chef Phillip Levine. He and about 40 other volunteers across the ministry rallied to make the dinner.

“All of our four active kitchens are really humming and working hard. We have about 280 pounds of meat that we’re preparing and getting ready for the special night,” Levine said.

It is definitely a special night, where many will fill empty tables and take a moment to enjoy the holidays.

“As far as the holidays, I used to hate them,” said Jesse Hoffman. “The thought of togetherness and all… all the things that the holidays are supposed to have, I never had that.”

Hoffman came to UGM in February for help with drug and alcohol addiction.

“It’s been rough,” he told 4 News Now.

He said getting help at UGM didn’t make him a better person, it helped him become a stronger person.

“I feel more complete here, and I feel like I have more now than I’ve ever had,” he explained.

While getting help, he also works at the front desk, helping other men find their way.

“I”m thankful I get to be a light in the darkness for men that are coming off the street. I get to be a helping hand or a shoulder to my brothers that are in pain,” he said.

What once was a time of year he hated, it has turned into a time he can enjoy with many others, especially Tuesday night, being surrounded by people and some good food.

“Now I get to be here, and I found love and belonging in the brokenness I found here,” said Hoffman.

“This is a set time where everybody gets together once again and celebrate and be united and hopefully, if they can’t, this is a safe place for them to be,” Levine said.

While UGM’s dinner and service started at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, there are a few other places to get a Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. You can find that list here.