It’s been called the most wonderful time of the year, but for many Christmas can also be a sad occasion to reflect on misfortune.
Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam and Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, along with several local volunteers, wanted to make sure those experiencing difficult times still have some Christmas cheer.
“The season is for giving,” said Gravitt during a holiday meal he helped arrange Wednesday. “Certainly, we want to be thankful for what we have ... we have been fortunate to have an abundance of things that maybe [less] fortunate people were unable to have, and it’s just a pleasure to be a help.”
More than 200 local senior citizens, children and families were served a Christmas meal at Tam’s Backstage restaurant.
Among the servers were Tam’s three children, community volunteers and officials, including incoming Forsyth County Board of Education member Kristin Morrissey.
Community Connection Executive Director Nicole McCoy, who organized the event, described it as a family meal.
“It’s a really fantastic opportunity for families to have a positive experience that they might not otherwise have, particularly during this hard holiday season,” she said. “It’s a happy time for everybody to eat together.
“I think a lot of people take for granted daily our chance to go out and to share a meal with another person.”
Among the invited guests were residents of Abba House, the Bald Ridge Boys Lodge and Faith’s House, as well as Habitat for Humanity home recipients.
Pointing to the group of 10 happy and energetic lodge residents, Barbara Kastner said “look at those guys over there ... they got to meet the mayor and their commissioners.”
“It’s an awesome event and we really appreciate it so much,” said Kastner, the lodge’s program coordinator. “It’s really nice to be able to get these guys out of the lodge.”
Lon Phillips, a direct care staff member at the lodge, said it’s also a learning experience.
“They get a chance to interact in a restaurant environment,” he said. “Some of them don’t get to experience restaurants, and now they get to meet and interact with adults in the community.”
The high spirits were also noticed by restaurant owner Kelly Tam.
“They seem to be very grateful,” she said. “There’s such a nice, jovial spirit here. It’s just very sweet to see the families together.”
Brian Tam, who manages the restaurant, said the event showed how people can join together to help the community.
“It’s up for us to provide those avenues for people to give back,” he said. “It’s very important and it’s important to get our employees involved and our younger people and other elected officials that are here tonight.
“We just like to support the community that supports us and ... I’m sure it’s comforting to know there are people out there thinking of them.”