PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Union Gospel Mission in downtown Portland served hundreds of meals to people in need on Christmas Day. The line stretched around the block, and inside every table was full.
“A lot of guests that come in today are guests that we see year round, and we want to give them something special on Christmas day,” said Courtney Dodds with the Union Gospel Mission.
This year they served 225 pounds of sliced ham, potatoes, yams and green beans among other dishes, plus about 100 pies to finish the feast. Organizers said it took more than 130 volunteers to set up and serve the Christmas Day meals, which was open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests were also given a Christmas gift as they left.
“What we really want to do is provide a fun, festive atmosphere for people who are in need or maybe can’t afford a traditional Christmas meal for themselves, or for neighbors who are experiencing homelessness,” said Dodds.
The Union Gospel Mission is entirely supported by individual donors and local businesses, without whom Dodds said none of this would be possible. She estimates that the Mission has had its doors open on Christmas day for the past 20-30 years.
“The message we want to share with out guests is that they are cared for, that they are seen, in a moment of dignity and humanity,” said Dodds. “Living on the streets can be very dehumanizing and we want them to know that someone cares and there is hope that their situation can change.”