LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - An East Texas veteran is holding a special Christmas Eve dinner and a coat, and gift bag giveaway for her community.
Since getting out of the military in Dec. 2017, Mikala Allen feels like she has a duty to serve the greater good. She put together an event she calls “In the Spirit of Christmas," and she’s inviting the Lufkin community to join her.
Allen set up tables in the parking lot of the Lufkin Whataburger around 3 p.m. Tuesday, where she’ll be handing out free bowls of soup, gift bags, and coats to anyone who wants or needs them.
Allen said there will also be caroling, conversation, and good company.
“The people who may not have the resources, they don’t know to go to the crisis center. A lady I met the other day doesn’t have any identification, so she can’t get help from a shelter or anything like that," Allen explained. "So, at least those people can come here and, you know, at least enjoy a free meal and a coat and a good bag and really have somebody to talk to and just exist with.”
The “In the Spirit of Christmas” event was held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Allen said anyone “who wants to be with others this Christmas Eve" is invited to show up.
“It means that there’s people out there that are showing love to people that desperately need it,” said guest Cynthia Griffin.
Guests could pick out a coat, eat some soup, and take goody bags which were filled with band aids, water, soap, candy, a hand written card and more.
“To you and those you love, never give up. Hope in your heart. Merry Christmas,” read one of the cards.
Three o’clock hadn’t even come around and people were already coming by to see what was happening.
“Not even three o’clock yet and people have already come and gotten quite a few jackets,” said Mikala Allen, creator of the event. “They’ve pretty much torn through our little gift bags and our snacks, and stuffed animals that we have. Lots of blankets have been taken.”
Strangers came together. Shared conversations and memories. A sense of community was created.
“It makes me feel very proud of the community as a whole to come out, to donate, to be involved,” Allen said. “One of the things I wanted from the very beginning was no strings attached, we’re just members of the community and it has shown that the community appreciates it.”
Not even thirty minutes in and their space in the parking lot was filled with people from all backgrounds, getting what they needed and enjoying Christmas Eve, together.
“Amazing, it keeps getting better. Everybody is eating soup, we’ve had to make more soup. All the goody bags are gone, all of the toys are gone, most of the coats are gone,” Allen said.
She added that everyone has been grateful and saying thank you. She showed her gratitude as well.
“Without everyone donating this wouldn’t have been possible and so for me and everyone else who this is going to help, it means everything,” Allen said.