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Tam’s carpool-style “Helpings of Hope” spreads cheer to local residents this holiday season
helpings of hope
Mayor Troy Brumbalow and Brian Tam, owner of Tam's BackStage, unload a box full of packaged meals to distribute to local seniors. Despite the chilly weather outside, each meal was delivered hot and ready to eat with smiles from the elf volunteers and of course, Santa Claus. - photo by For the FCN

As volunteers carefully curated boxes full of steaming-hot meals prepared by Brian Tam and his crew of Christmas elves and volunteers, “Helpings of Hope” looked a little different this year.

In previous years, Brian and Kelly Tam, owners of Tam’s BackStage, have held an event to serve delicious feasts to local senior citizens and nonprofit organizations. Dozens of members of the community would volunteer to serve the food to a dining room full of smiling faces.

This year, the smiling faces came in the form of a carpool line outside the historic Cumming Public School, the location of Tam’s BackStage and the School Street Playhouse. Seniors began to arrive in their cars around 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 7 to receive previously prepped meals.

Despite the current restrictions surrounding social gatherings and proximity, Brian Tam was determined to spread holiday cheer.

“The past weeks I was just staring up at the ceiling wondering how we would do this thing,” Brian Tam said. “This year, everything’s the same, but it’s just different.”

He decided on operating the “Helpings of Hope” festivities drive-thru style, loosely styled after a popular chicken fast-food joint in the area. Each meal consisted of delicious servings of turkey and gravy, mac and cheese, green beans and other traditional holiday dishes.

Starting at 11 a.m., around a dozen volunteers, of which were Mayor Troy Brumbalow, Kristin Morrissey and Carter Patterson, served more than 60 senior citizens from their car windows. Santa Claus was also present to wish each resident a Merry Christmas and give them a candy cane treat for dessert.

From 5-6:30 pm, “Helpings of Hope” served more than 150 other residents through local non-profits and Forsyth County Schools. Among some of the nonprofits were the Bald Ridge Lodge, Family Haven, Jesse’s House and The Place of Forsyth. Santa and his elves remained at the school to wave at carpoolers and pass out boxes of freshly made dinner.

While people were not able to dine inside the building and socialize with others, Brian Tam and his hard-working team of volunteers still made “Helpings of Hope” bright and cheery for local residents, carrying on the long-standing tradition of service and gratitude even amidst uncertainty. 

helpings of hope
Volunteers load up containers of helpings of steaming green beans, sweet potatoes and mac and cheese. - photo by For the FCN
helpings of hope
Director of Senior Services Ruthie Brew (right) poses with one of her elf helpers. The Senior Services group brought many volunteers to help assist the carpool lanes outside of the historic Cumming Public School, along with distributing boxed meals. - photo by For the FCN
helpings of hope
Mayor Troy Brumbalow passes out meals to seniors as well as a candy cane treat for dessert. - photo by For the FCN