Serving souls: Christmas dinner feeds volunteers' spirits - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Serving souls: Christmas dinner feeds volunteers' spirits as well as the homeless

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Renee Stanley, Tina Finley and Donita Trowell Renee Stanley, Tina Finley and Donita Trowell
Bryan Hagan Bryan Hagan
Seth and Aaron Hagan Seth and Aaron Hagan
Charlotte Orr Charlotte Orr

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Wayside Christian Mission's Christmas lunch was just 45 minutes away and Linda Stith was lifting a steam-table tray full of potatoes. As loads go, this was a light one compared to the burdens Stith has shouldered over the past five years.

Stith has worked her way up from being a client to being manager of Wayside's Hotel Louisville.

"I had tried to commit suicide," said Stith during a Christmas morning interview. "I'd gone through an abusive marriage and when I got out of that I messed my life up. But Wayside told me to come on."

The homeless, the underemployed and the unexpectedly needy come by the hundreds on this holiday.

"I had a whole lot more families than I normally do," Stith said. "It tells me that the economy we live in has gotten rougher."

There but for grace could go a long way to explain why of the more than 400 volunteers helping put together and serve the Christmas meals – more than half have brought family themselves.

"We know the Lord, how he gave; how he came to give to us," Tina Finley said.

Finley, a grandmother, brought her grown daughters Donita Trowell and Renee Stanley to serve on the buffet line.

"Instead of us trying to receive things, we wanted to give back, and bless somebody else today," Trowell said.

Bryan Hagan brought his sons, Seth, 15 and Aaron, 14, from Oldham County.

"God spoke to us about a new tradition, setting an example," Bryan Hagan said.

"It was a pretty easy sell," Seth Hagan said. "I just like coming down and helping people."

"It's not like I expected," said Aaron Hagan. "There's a lot more people - it's a very open environment - people look like they're excited to be here."

For Charlotte Orr, 11, of Brandenburg, KY, it was about expressing gratitude.

"I thought it was a good idea, helping people," said Charlotte.

"We were kind of needy ourselves this year," said Geneva Orr, Charlotte's mother. "I thought we have a lot more to give."

Already, several are certain they'll be back next year.

"It's all on the inside, I can't even tell you how it feels, it feels really good," Renee Stanley said.

Aaron Hagan has an easy answer when he goes back to school, and his friends ask how he spent Christmas.

"They should come out here and do it," he said. Because it's great.it's a good feeling to help people out."

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