NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - For the second year the East Texas Healing Center wants those struggling during the holidays to know they are not alone.
"A lot of people are grieving during this time more than any other time of the year, and for us it all comes back to providing hope," said CEO of the Healing Center, Cindy Hyde.
She said this idea began with a volunteer hoping to feed at least 50 people last year. When over 176 attended, they knew this was something they wanted to continue.
"There are a lot of people that don't have family at Christmas time, so they can come and enjoy Christmas dinner with us," Hyde said. "There are over 30 volunteers out there giving up their Christmas day to make sure this happens, that speaks volumes as well."
The volunteers in attendance were their to serve food donated from businesses in the community, and provide joy to those who might be alone or struggling.
"During Christmas time you grieve the loss of people that you love, some people have lost their jobs, some people have trouble during the winter months," Hyde said. "There are so many different reasons people could need help, and we are just so joyful to give that to them."
Another important aspect of the holiday dinner is the free shopping spree from the organization Precious Cycle. They are open 365 days of the year, and on call 24/7. They have a warehouse of donated items they give to those in need, completely free.
"The event today is just like anything else the other 364 days of the year for us giving back," said founder, Tree Fulce. "We are a christian company wanting to make sure every life in need is touched in our community."
Her husband, and co-founder of the organization said giving back has become a lifestyle for their family.
"It's very special because some people aren't able to afford things for Christmas, for whatever reason. And we are able to give these to them. Putting a smile on a kids face is the main objective," Fulce said.
Most importantly, this event provides them, 'bags of hope' that circulate the community year round. A volunteer began giving the bags out to the homeless, but now they are offered to anyone in need.
"Last year we gave out 225 bags of personal hygiene items and Kleenexes, but this year we have given out 300," Hyde said.
She recalled a time the bag impacted a family struggling.
"I had a woman stop by one time with her husband and six children. They were struggling financially, and I handed each of them a bag of hope, and she said 'Oh thank you, I really needed some hope right now,'" Hyde said. "I mean, that just brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes that is all people need. That is why we do this."
The Healing Center offers counseling, ministry, and crisis intervention to the community year round. They invite anyone struggling or needing hope to visit their center.
"Sometimes people just get wrapped up in whatever circumstance they are going through," Hyde said. "We are somewhere they can come, and have someone hear their story and then help them through whatever they are going through."