More than1,000 Utah families in need given Christmas dinner and gifts

Dec 23, 2023, 6:15 PM | Updated: 6:19 pm

Nine hundred turkeys were given out by Crossroads Urban Center for families to have Christmas dinne...

Nine hundred turkeys were given out by Crossroads Urban Center for families to have Christmas dinner. The last turkey was handed out around around 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning. (Kaigan Bigler, KSL.com)

(Kaigan Bigler, KSL.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — Cars lined up around the block on Lincoln Avenue in Salt Lake City on Saturday as volunteers handed out 900 turkeys to families in need, and the Ogden Rescue Mission fed hundreds of homeless people at a lunch banquet.

Crossroads Urban Center

Crossroads Urban Center has been providing Christmas dinners in partnership with Rowland Hall, a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school, for decades. This holiday season saw the most dinner kits they’ve ever handed out.

The turkeys are left over from the center’s Thanksgiving food giveaway, then combined with meal donations from the Utah Food Bank and Harmon’s grocery store and produce purchased by Crossroads.

The dinners contain turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes and produce, according to Rowland Hall director of ethical education Ryan Hoglund.

Crossroads community involvement director Erika Gee said, “(It’s) to make a meal so people have something to enjoy with their Christmas. … Holidays are already a stressful time. If you don’t really have the funds or the means to be able to celebrate, we just want to take that burden off of people.”

A good reminder

The drive opened at about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, and though it was slated to go until 2 p.m., all 900 turkeys were gone by 11:30 a.m.

“It’s just a good reminder of the season of just how great the need is in the community, and just how important it is to support your local food pantries and food bank,” Hoglund said. He added that volunteers bring hygiene kits to give away with the dinners.

“In a season where a holiday sometimes feels like it’s gone a little to the material side, (it’s) a reminder (that) it’s about building community, it’s about coming together and being each other’s keeper,” Hoglund said.

One volunteer, Patsy Simons, has been volunteering at the annual Christmas food giveaway for 10 years. She said she does it because of the smiles on the faces of those receiving the food.

For those unable to get a Christmas dinner kit or turkey from the giveaway, Hoglund and Gee both encouraged those in need to visit Crossroads Urban Center and the Utah Food Bank.

Ogden Rescue Mission

The Ogden Rescue Mission is in its fifth year of holding holiday banquets for the homeless, serving over 400 meals for lunch on Saturday with more to hand out for dinner later in the evening.

On Friday night, the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake held a banquet that handed out about 1,113 meals, feeding visitors to the Rescue Mission as well as members of homeless camps where volunteers brought food.

“The holiday season, and especially Christmas, is very difficult for the homeless community. … With us hosting these Christmas banquets, we’re trying to demonstrate that we care about … our homeless friends, … that we want them to celebrate Christmas, that they’re human beings, that they have dignity, and that instills hope in them,” Rescue Mission of Salt Lake executive director Chris Croswhite said.

Croswhite said a lot of the help they offer at Christmastime is to give hope to the homeless community, including parents and children — providing over 150 children with Christmas gifts between Wednesday and Friday.

Along with food, the banquet also offered anyone attending options for free warm clothing and coats.

For anyone who wants to help the homeless, both Rescue Missions offer “Help cards” that can be ordered through their website that can be handed out to those who appear to be in need or are panhandling. The cards direct those needing help to seek out the Ogden or Salt Lake Rescue Mission.

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More than1,000 Utah families in need given Christmas dinner and gifts