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Cumming restaurant feeds those in need an early holiday meal
hope
Restaurant employees and volunteers refresh the food on the serving line Monday during the annual Helpings of Hope community meal at Tams Backstage. - photo by Jim Dean

CUMMING — Most families have the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas to recuperate from massive portions and all-day cooking sprees. But for some in Forsyth County, an early-December meal at a Cumming restaurant is the only holiday dinner they will enjoy together.

Tam’s Backstage held its annual Helpings of Hope lunch and dinner for families and individuals in need Monday.

Many of those who attended were involved in partner agencies of Forsyth County Community Connection, an organization that serves as a liaison between children and families and various local services.

The diners came from, among others: Abba House, a Christian addiction recovery ministry for women; Bald Ridge Lodge, a nonprofit stabilization and assessment center for boys; Jesse’s House, an emergency children’s shelter for at-risk girls; Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, a nonprofit that advocates for children involved in the foster care system; and the Division of Family and Children Services.

This was the 11th year Tam’s has put on the event, according to Kristin Morrissey, who represents south Forsyth’s District 2 on the local school board.

Morrissey said 127 people signed up for the meal, a little more than the 118 who showed up in 2014.

Earlier in the day, the restaurant served 75 senior citizens lunch and made 15 to-go boxes for homebound residents. They were all involved in Forsyth County Senior Services.

About 19 volunteers and additional restaurant staff helped serve food and kept the event running smoothly, Morrissey said.

Other notable volunteers included County Commissioners Brian Tam and Pete Amos, Lambert High School Principal Gary Davison and Jayne Iglesias, District 2 planning board representative.

Tam, who runs the restaurant with his wife, said they prepared between 275 and 300 portions, with dishes including turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, pumpkin pie and “the works.”

“We’re fortunate to have been here for as long as we have, and it’s been a great way for our friends to have a venue to give back to the less fortunate,” Tam said. “It’s what the Christmas spirit is all about.”

He said some people have been involved in tough circumstances, and everyone helping out wants “to show them we’re behind them and that we support them.”

The restaurant has put the event on every year it has been in business.

Drew Ferrer, athletic director at Lambert, said he and his family have been volunteering for three or four years.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community and to serve others,” Ferrer said. “And I want to show my family that not everybody has everything and that some are in need.”

He said he likes bringing his two kids because they help families and children being served feel more comfortable.

“It warms up the adults. Kids don’t judge,” he said.

His seventh-grade daughter, Katelyn Ferrer, said her favorite memory of volunteering at the dinner came in 2014.

“A girl came in who was being served and she was so excited that she started helping and serving other people,” she said, “and that was really cool.”