Hundreds of volunteers at the Salvation Army in Phoenix helped serve and distribute approximately 7,000 meals to people on Christmas Day.
For hours Christmas morning, vehicles lined up outside of the Phoenix Convention Center to receive pre-packaged bags of food to be transported to homebound people for the holiday.
"We thought we'd do something helpful for people," said Preston Steen, who volunteered to deliver meals. "We're very fortunate, and we're really happy to be able to do some little thing to be able to help out people."
Volunteers from the University of Kansas football team, who were in town for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, helped load cars outside of the convention center, while hundreds of other volunteers prepared meals and provided haircuts and beauty services inside the building.
Courtney Rich, who has experienced homelessness, was grateful to have her hair trimmed.
"This is actually the nicest thing I've done for myself in a long time," she said. "It feels like I'm finally back up where I should be."
"You couldn't do it without the volunteers," said Lt. Colonel Ivan Wilde, a divisional commander of the southwest region of Salvation Army. "We see a lot of families coming out and working together, and that's just a beautiful thing. And then there are others that just want to give back; they themselves have been helped in the past, and they want to give back. And so, they just all come and join in... and just make it happen."
Annually, the Salvation Army assists more than 25 million people nationwide, providing more than 171 million meals and nearly 8 million nights of shelter to people across the country, according to Scott Johnson, the public relations director for the Salvation Army Southwest Division.
For Tom Christmas — a volunteer who recruited members of the non-profit group, Guardian Garage, to volunteer in Phoenix — the day was special.
"It's rewarding... It's not about me. It's not about my last name," Christmas said, "It's about all these people that are down here volunteering, helping out. It's not just my group, but everybody, to help somebody that might need that little bit of encouragement."
Christmas said members of his group, Guardian Garage, are former first responders and military members who provide support through artwork and vehicle restoration to people who have experienced PTSD.
"All three of these lines of work are more than just a job; they're a career, and you have to have a special feeling inside about giving," he said.
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