It feels great to help a family in need before having Thanksgiving dinner, said Jim Burgins, pastor and communications administrator at Mission Arlington.
“Mission Arlington provides food, clothing and medical care, but on Thanksgiving our main focus is making sure people have Thanksgiving food,” Burgins said.
Last year, 6,000 volunteered to deliver food to more than 23,000 people as part of Mission Arlington’s Thanksgiving Morning Dinner Delivery.
Burgins said Mission Arlington use to do soup kitchen lines on Thanksgiving Day, but found it was embarrassing to some of those in need.
“So we started taking the foods to peoples homes,” Burgins said. “Now, they can eat that Thanksgiving meal in their own kitchen table with their own families.”
The process said being involved is very simple, said Dawn Craig, an organizer of an Around Arlington Meetup group.
“You check in, you stand in line, you get a map, you pick up dinner and you deliver them to families in the area that have registered to receive the dinner,” Craig said.
Burgins said anyone can volunteer at the event. It does not require registration or background checks.
“All you have to do is show up,” Burgins said.
Both Burgins and Craig said they’ve had a lifetime love of community service.
Burgins said his love for community service was nurtured early on by his mother, who is the director of Mission Arlington. Craig said her grandmother took her to volunteer as a young child and she continued that tradition when her daughter was young.
“It’s an amazing sight to see,” Craig said. “All of the people could be at home cooking their own Thanksgiving dinners, or traveling. Instead, everybody got up, and they’re donating their time and effort.”
Burgins said one of his favorite parts of volunteering is hearing real stories from people who are struggling and being able to bring families together over a Thanksgiving meal.
Burgins and Craig said that they encourage college students in particular to come down to the event.
“College students are very hands-on and engaged in community service,” Burgins said. “It’s a meaningful thing for college students to do.”
Nursing sophomore Tim Cruz said that he spent many of his teenage years volunteering at his church.
Cruz said he admires those who take time out of their own Thanksgiving to help others.
“It’s close to campus, it’s convenient,” Craig said. “You can do it with friends or you could meet new friends.”