The annual Helpings of Hope community meal kicked off Tuesday afternoon with a luncheon for Forsyth County’s senior citizens at Tam’s Backstage.
Holding hands, Jack and Maggie Parker sat down to a warm Christmas meal.
“It’s one of the highlights of the season,” Jack Parker said. “We’ve been every year.”
Senior citizens who attend the Forsyth County Senior Center were bused to Tam’s near downtown Cumming, where a Thanksgiving-style buffet awaited them.
“They always go all out for this and they put out a very nice buffet,” said senior Joni Hall.
Her friend Betty Cross agreed, saying “they really are a nice group to do this.”
“You can’t get any better than this,” said Cross, pointing to the buffet. “I think it’s wonderful.”
Like the dinner sittings that followed later in the day, the senior luncheon is put on every year by the restaurant, Cumming government and Community Connection.
Nicole Morgan, executive director of the nonprofit, said the event is one of her favorites.
“To see their faces, they’re all happy and smiling and especially after doing it for so many years, we have our regulars that come in and it’s a big sense of family,” she said.
“It’s a great time of year to show community to a lot of them that don’t necessarily have family that lives nearby.
“It’s a great way for us to show them that they have a larger community of family and services that are available to them.”
But that’s something many of the seniors already know.
Cross and Hall are friends through the exercise group at the senior center.
The Parkers said they knew most of the other luncheon guests through the facility.
“We see each other on a regular basis,” Jack Parker said. “We eat together every day pretty much.”
But the food isn’t nearly as good, he joked. Pam Hostogarsky agreed.
“It’s like a taste of home,” she said of the meal at Tam’s. “This is the coup de grâce.
“The generosity of this community is just hometown generosity. It’s just so sweet.
That’s all I can say. This has been a very sweet experience.”