With a plate full of cranberries, sweet potatoes and ham, Dorothy Bagwell sat down to a holiday meal Tuesday with others from the Forsyth County Center at Charles Place.
“We look forward to it,” Bagwell said. “Hoping they’ll ask again each year.”
The annual Helpings of Hope at Tam’s Backstage welcomes county seniors and people in need to a meal each Monday and Tuesday before Christmas.
Owner Kelly Tam said the Cumming restaurant brings in several volunteers to help out each year for the holiday event.
“We love doing this,” Tam said. “It does the heart good to do these kinds of things.”
She recognizes several of the seniors who return each year for the festive lunch.
The restaurant meals are also sponsored by Forsyth County Community Connection, The Place of Forsyth and Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt.
For the Monday meal, the restaurant served about 75 people in need that were invited through local nonprofits and the school system.
On Tuesday, about 70 seniors visited for lunch.
Nicole Morgan, director of the Forsyth County Community Connection, said the meals are great for the guests, as well as those serving.
“It really creates a sense of community for everybody involved,” she said.
Several students pitched in Monday night just for the joy of helping others, said Drew Ferrer, Lambert High School athletic director.
He brought his 6-year-old son, who enjoyed serving other children at the meal.
“My son said it was one of the best days of his life,” Ferrer said. “That was exciting because you never know what they might get out of it.”
With the children in school Tuesday, volunteering adults helped out for the lunch.
Mary Bollati said the wonderful service makes the meal a favorite part of the holiday season.
“Service with a smile,” said school board member Darla Light, as she carried a pitcher of water to refill glasses.
As the volunteers brought out pieces of pie to complete the meal, the buffet table still had several hot dishes waiting to be eaten.
Morgan said some of the leftover food goes back to the senior center to share with those who couldn’t make the trip.
Other portions went home with nonprofits that have residents, such as the Bald Ridge Boy’s Lodge and Jesses’ House, as well as those who ate dinner on Monday.
“They got to come and have a meal and go home with one,” Morgan said. “Sometimes, the best thing about the holidays is the leftovers.”