Volunteers serve 500 hot meals to Oak Cliff residents

It was a night of giving and community for in Oak Cliff as volunteers served meals to 500 people in need.

Dallas police say the hot meals weren’t just a kind gesture but actually help decrease the violent crime in the area.

Mercy Chefs helped make and serve the meals at the Village Oaks community center in Oak Cliff.

"At least everyone will have a nice opportunity to come in and get them something nice to eat,” said resident Keith Maxey.

The center is run by the Dallas-based charity, Behind Every Door. And it was just one of the services it helps provide for the more than 500 people who live in the area.

15-year-old Jaquallian Buras is growing up at Village Oaks. He watched on Wednesday as Chefs cooked the complimentary Christmas dinner.

"A lot of people who feel like there's no one there for them, they still got something to look forward to,” Buras said.

Behind Every Door Executive Director Will Dowell knows the area has historically high crime, with a high level of incarcerated people and a low literacy level.

"I think there's something really powerful about a meal and coming together around a table,” he said.

But Dowell also knows it's a community that wants to do better. In fact, it's the neighborhood where former Police Chief David Brown grew up.

Dallas Police Deputy Chief Michael Coleman says it's little things like the dinner that help in the big picture. He's watched crime change since charities have moved into the area.

"Anytime you have a complex of this size where you've got over 400 units, you're going to have issues because you've got so many people in one area,” Coleman said. “But the fact that it's reducing violent crime in this area and giving the residents and giving these kids things to do, that's helping a lot."

A charity called Amazing Grace Life funded the meal, so there were three different groups that made it happen. The deputy chief says that's how police can combat violent crime — with help from the community.

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