As a young child, Shawn Malone was always excited to get up early on Christmas morning to open presents.
Now, as an adult and small business owner, he has rekindled that excitement through a community project to provide free, hot Christmas meals to people in need.
This is the third year Malone, owner of Brooklyn Pizza Co. in Seymour, and close friends Brian and Jessica D’Arco, owners of Bubba’s Place bar, also in Seymour, have worked together to make those meals available to people in Jackson County.
And each year, the demand has grown, Malone said.
“The first year, we didn’t really know what the need was,” he said. “We did 350 meals that year. Last year, we hoped for 500 and did more than 600.”
This year, they are shooting for 1,000 meals.
To be put on the list to receive meals, people must call United Way’s 2-1-1 community
service hotline by Dec. 19. Callers will need to provide their name, address, telephone number, number of meals needed and whether they want turkey or ham.
Meals can be delivered or picked up at Brooklyn Pizza at 753 W. Second St. from noon to 5 p.m. Christmas Day.
Although Malone is best known for his pizzas and
calzones, that’s not what is on the menu for these Christmas dinners.
Each meal consists of turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and all the trimmings. With the help of a neighboring business, The Flying Pink Pig BBQ, they plan to cook 12 to 15 turkeys and another eight to 12 hams to have enough.
“It’s a lot of food, but we want to make sure everyone who needs a hot meal on Christmas can get one,” Malone said.
D’Arco, who also serves on Seymour City Council, estimated the total cost for 1,000 meals to be around $2,100. So far, they’ve collected $1,250 in donations to cover those costs, with $1,000 coming from Ranger Enterprises in Seymour.
The Home Depot in Seymour also has donated 1,000 bottles of water to be delivered with the meals.
The idea for the meals started when the three began discussing what they were going to do on Christmas since both businesses were closed for the holiday.
“We didn’t really have any plans,” Malone said. “None of us have kids, so we decided we wanted to give back through food because that is how we make our living.”
“With both of us being in the food industry, it’s a way of giving back what supports us,” D’Arco added.
Another reason they wanted to focus on Christmas meals is because other local organizations were already providing free meals on Thanksgiving, Malone said.
Volunteers are still needed to help with packaging and delivering meals on Christmas Day.
Malone estimated between 75 and 80 people will help put the meals in to-go containers, bag them up, fill orders and deliver them.
He said people who have volunteered in the past want to come back every year.
“They’ve told me how being a part of this has touched their families and has given their kids a greater appreciation for Christmas,” Malone said. “It’s been really awesome to have that kind of outreach.”
He also said he has received positive feedback through thank-you calls and cards from those who receive meals.
“It’s just been a blessing on both ends,” he said. “It makes us realize it’s needed and that people really do appreciate it.”
“It’s really rewarding,” he said. “We do our family Christmas on Christmas Eve and then this on Christmas Day. It’s become a tradition.”
To receive a free, hot Christmas meal in Jackson County:
Call United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline to sign up. Callers will need to provide their name, address, telephone number, number of meals needed and whether they want turkey or ham.
Deadline to sign up is Dec. 19.
Meals can be delivered or picked up at Brooklyn Pizza at 753 W. Second St. in Seymour from noon to 5 p.m. on Christmas Day.
To sign up as a volunteer to package and deliver meals, call Brooklyn Pizza at 812-524-8888 or Bubba’s Place at 812-522-2818.
Monetary donations to cover the costs of the meals can be made at Brooklyn Pizza or Bubba’s Place, 402 S. Walnut St. in Seymour.