Christmas at Lazarus House a Fox Valley tradition
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Close to 200 people gathered for food, conversation and cups of cheer at Lazarus House's annual Christmas Brunch in St. Charles on Wednesday.
Volunteers and visitors were greeted with "Hello! Merry Christmas!" by staffer Wanda Hochstetter as they walked in the doors of the Free Methodist Church, many holding homemade dishes to share at the extended family potluck.
"Community is the word that summarizes all of what Lazarus House represents," said Executive Director Liz Eakins. Lazarus House provides food, safe shelter, case management and support services to homeless people in St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and western rural Kane County.
"Christmas Day is the perfect time for our communities to come together and share fellowship with each other," Eakins added, "both those who have much to be grateful for and those who may be struggling to find joy."
Steve Lowe of Geneva, an operations staff member at the shelter as well as a deacon at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Geneva, said grace and added "Bon Appétit!" to the crowd before they got into the chow line.
In line, Joan Cowen of St. Charles scooped cheesy scalloped potatoes onto her husband Pat's plate, a dish she brought. The pair attended the event last year and enjoyed it so much they came back this year.
"They talk to you, they smile, what's better than that?" she said with a wide smile and a laugh. Her joyful attitude echoed her hand-decorated sweatshirt with boughs of holly and the words "Merry Christmas" drawn on the front.
Christmas music filled the room as Cynthia Haynes of Elgin sung high praises about the community meal she and her family were attending the event for the first time.
"This is absolutely amazing," she said, vowing to be back.
Doug Kight and his family of five volunteered as a family for the first time to help serve the meal. As he and his son, Austin, carved up hams, Kight shared, "It's very rewarding to work as a family and do what you can to help."
This is his second time volunteering at a Lazarus House community dinner, and he enjoys making this part of their family holiday.
Lazarus House is looking for financial contributions, including gift cards to local stores and pharmacies. Lazarus House is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
It currently serves more than 49 people daily at its shelter with food, shelter and case management, and approximately 37 households monthly through outreach programs.
For more information about the shelter, or for people in need of immediate help, call (630) 587-2144.
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