BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — State Sen. Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) is giving Santa Claus a run for his money.
On Sunday, the senator wrapped a whopping 125 gifts in preparation for the 14th annual Christmas Luncheon at New Hope Baptist Church on Monday, a free event she said is a labor of love for many volunteers at the church.
“I do this because I’m able to,” she said. “I support them personally.”
The gifts Moore passed out Monday ranged from new T-shirts to toiletries and candy.
“They’re small, but it’s just to let them know somebody gave them something,” she said. “Some of these people might not get anything else for Christmas.”
Moore also presented toys to the few children in attendance at the event, part of the church’s Feeding Ministry, which welcomes guests to a full lunch every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Anyone is welcome to the annual Christmas luncheon, said the church’s pastor, the Rev. David O. Miller.
The church began opening its doors for lunches in 1976, Miller said. It serves about 1,200 meals a month, pulling out all the stops at holidays.
Dorothy Brown, a caterer who is director of the Feeding Ministry, laid out a banquet of turkey, barbecued chicken, macaroni and cheese, greens, fruit and desserts for her guests.
“I’ve been working here since 7 o’clock,” she said. “I just believe everyone should have a decent meal, no matter what their circumstances. "
Many of those gathered are “down on their luck,” said Miller, who has noticed more women and children in recent years. He addressed and blessed the crowd before the buffet opened.
“What Pastor is saying to you is this: There is hope,” he said. “God put it on our hearts to do this. They don’t get paid for this. It’s because we love y’all.”
Ada Lopez and Alvah Patterson of Bridgeport waited to be called up to the buffet line.
Lopez thanked the church volunteers. “It’s good for people to come together,” she said. “A lot of people don’t have family around.”
“I’m here to eat,” said Patterson. “I took in the word from the pastor and I got a little knowledge, too.”
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