During the holiday season, groups and individuals help their community by donating time and resources to provide a happy holiday to those less fortunate.
Pulaski Daily Bread provides a happier season each year to hundreds of individuals and families; however, it needs the community’s help to provide a few smiles.
Debra Harrell, director of Daily Bread, said the holiday months are always “busy, fun, full of activity, but we’re always struggling for donations.” According to Harrell, this time of year the group always finds itself desperate, asking people to help even more than usual.
While some of the supplies for the upcoming holiday meal already have been secured, such as turkeys provided by Radford Arsenal, the group struggles each year to pull together the other items needed. However, Harrell has not lost faith in area residents.
“This is a community-supported program and always has been,” said Harrell. “We opened in 1987 and if it hadn’t been for the community and the volunteers, this program would have never lasted. The amount of grants that I write would not cover this program. There’s not that many grants out there for programs like this. The community usually comes through every year and it’s wonderful.”
Christmas and Thanksgiving at the Daily Bread are big productions. They are events full of gifts, treats and, of course, Santa Claus.
“At Christmas we have a huge dinner … we give toiletries and we give toothpaste and shampoo and soap in bags, and then we give them a treat bag with candy, apples and oranges and then, of course we have Santa here. He’s wonderful. We have him and his wife, Mrs. Claus, and they give out gifts,” said Harrell.
Preparation for the holiday dinners takes months to plan. “We really work hard during October, November and December to make it special for the people who come,” said Harrell. “Because, for a lot of them, they’re having to take their (Christmas money) and pay for electricity and things and we just really want to make it special for them at Christmas.”
She added, “There’s so little joy, and this gives them happiness. We feed their stomach, but we also feed their souls. And a lot of people who come in here every day see people they speak to every day. And they sit and they talk and they meet and greet and they may not get that any other time of day. You see the little groups who gravitate to each other and they share their meal and they go their separate ways.”
Christmas is a special time at Daily Bread because the volunteers get to see the joy they bring to families first hand. “We just want them to smile,” said Harrell. “The joy when the children see Santa, it’s just amazing.”
Harrell has two favorite memories of the children at Christmas. The first is a little girl who was so excited to get a Bratz doll that she told her mother, “I told you Santa would get me one!” She also remembers a young boy who was thrilled to receive an orange and sat and held it to his nose the entire time to take in the smell.
“That’s why we do it,” she said. l, “for those little moments where a child is hugging her Bratz doll or a child gets an orange and is so excited he has an orange. It warms your heart.”
She added that adults get a joy out of getting gifts too because they are usually the members of the family who do without. This year, instead of collecting money for blankets, they are collecting money for gift cards so that families can have a meal out.
Harrell encourages everyone to donate to the holiday cause. Residents can donate food, toiletry items or even money, she said. “I love to shop, so if people want to give money, I don’t mind shopping for them.”