EUGENE, Ore. – Hundreds of Eugene’s most vulnerable received a free Christmas meal Wednesday thanks to the Eugene Mission.
Leading up to the dinner, hundreds of staff and volunteers contributed countless hours to make food, set tables and decorate for the annual event.
Executive Director Sheryl Balthrop anticipated about 500 people to attend the two dinners, which were held at separate times to accommodate both men and women.
For many of the people experiencing homelessness, the mission is the only place to stay and get a warm Christmas meal.
Debbie Slagley is staying at the Eugene Mission and said her plans for Christmas would look very different if not for the mission.
“I would probably be walking, probably on the freeway because that’s what I do when I get scared,” Slagley said.
Dozens of volunteers gave up time with family on Christmas in order to make the dinner happen.
"Someone asked me the other day 'is this your family for Christmas and I said yes'. So, I realized these people are my family for Christmas" Ariel Friesner, a guest at Eugene Mission, said.
Many guests expressed gratitude for all the work that went into preparing the meals, which included ham, turkey, potatoes, vegetables and pie.
"It's kind of nice to have all these volunteers come help us and all that. And try and get us back on our feet,” Callahan Jones said.