Salvation Army Christmas lunch serves holiday meals to those in need

A decades-old tradition continues bringing joy along with holiday meals.

The Salvation Army Christmas lunch served about a thousand meals on Wednesday and brought one family together for the first time in nearly a decade.

The Salvation Army Christmas lunch is the only place for some people to get a hot meal and a warm smile. For others, it's a place to volunteer and serve. At the end of the day, all hearts are full.

A small army of volunteers kept the traditional Christmas meals coming. They were served up for special guests like Savella Echols and her family. Four generations enjoyed their first holiday meal together in a very long time.

“That's our daughter down there. She's been incarcerated 18 years. So this is our first Christmas together in 18 years,” she explained.

“I've always loved Salvation army because of the mercy that they have and the love and compassion that they show for everybody,” said Sonja Harris.

“We have about 600 people who live here in our facility,” said Salvation Army Volunteer Coordinator Jordanya Reeves. “But on Christmas day, we open up the building to everyone in the community.”

Meals are served with a loving smile and words of encouragement for whatever lies ahead.

“It's a blessing and an honor for a second chance,” said Salvation Army client Michael Costa. “Everyone deserves second chances.”

One of the servers was FOX 4 photojournalist Kevin Bell who was volunteering with his wife and daughter.

“I’ve been so blessed,” Bell said. “You come in here, and you see people. You realize what a blessing you are to them and two-fold because I come back and I'm blessed.”

“Being here has really opened my eyes at how giving and loving and the people here just love to give back,” said Salvation Army client Virginia Rodriguez.

“I think it's great that we still have kindhearted people who still want to come help us out,” said Salvation Army client Jessica Sosa.

Down the hallway was an unexpected wave of donations filling a room with toys, allowing parents to put a smile on their child's face.