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Serving up hope
Holiday feast fills appetites, a local need
Dinner WEB 1
Sydney Morrissey waits to help serve drinks Tuesday during the Helpings of Hope community dinner at Tam’s Backstage. - photo by Autumn Vetter

A young girl in a Santa hat delivered a glass of water and some creamers to a table where the Patterson family enjoyed a candlelit holiday meal by a glowing Christmas tree.

Everything from the atmosphere, the music and the food made for a great dinner, Pat Patterson said.

“And the service is excellent,” he added.

The family, along with about 150 other people, attended the Helpings of Hope community dinner Tuesday night at Tam’s Backstage.

Organized in conjunction with Tam’s and the city of Cumming, the Forsyth County Community Connection invited families and children served by local nonprofit agencies for the free feast.

Kristin Morrissey, a Connection board member, said it was nice to see folks enjoy a traditional holiday meal together.

“We expected a greater need this year than others,” said Morrissey, adding that The Place of Forsyth referred several families who are struggling due to the economy.

Women and children from Abba House, Faith’s House, Bald Ridge Lodge, Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together and the juvenile justice system also attended.

The boys of the Bald Ridge Lodge had been excited about going out for dinner since they got home from school, staff member Cedric Poindexter said.

“It’s just an opportunity to get out in the community,” he said, adding that the lodge appreciates the county’s support. “It’s a good way for them to say ‘thank you.’”

The boys enjoyed helpings of sweet potatoes, green beans and turkey as some of the volunteers delivered sodas to the table.

Sisters Rene and Dorothy Tam said it’s become a holiday tradition for them to serve meals to those in need at their family’s restaurant.

Rene Tam, a fifth-grader, said she likes to see people enjoying the food for free.

Eighth-grader Dorothy Tam said the attendees are always appreciative.

“Everyone says thank you and merry Christmas,” she said.

Their mother, Kelly Tam, said one of her favorite parts of the annual community dinner is watching her children help.

Attendance has grown each of the six years the restaurant has played host to the event, Kelly Tam said.

“Based on the turnout, there is a need for this,” she said. “There are people out there hurting.”

During the dinner, however, nearly every face had a full smile and every person a full belly.