About 50 local people spent part of their Christmas Day to help make sure those in need received a hot meal.
It was a sacrifice that at least one person — 14-year-old Conner Lane of Seymour — didn’t even know he was going to be making.
“I didn’t tell him we were doing this,” Leon Lane said of his son as the two prepared meals at Brooklyn Pizza in Seymour.
The free meals are something Shawn Malone, owner of Brooklyn Pizza, and Brian “Bubba” and Jessica D’Arco established three years ago as a way to provide meals for those in need. The event has doubled from 250 meals the first year to 500 this year.
Conner Lane wasn’t too upset about his dad’s lack of communication.
“It’s good to help your community,” he said.
Leon Lane said his family, which includes his parents, children and grandchildren, is so spread out anymore that they decided to have Christmas on Sunday.
“That kind of leaves today (Christmas) open,” he said.
That’s why he decided to help out with the meal when he heard about it from friend and volunteer Richard Moody.
“This is what Christmas is all about,” Leon Lane said.
Taylor Heckman of Seymour agreed.
The 15-year-old Seymour girl, who was helping out for a second year in a row, said without the meal she would probably be at home spending time with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus.
But helping others is important, too, Taylor said.
Malone said finding volunteers has never been much of an issue, but the first free Christmas relied on donations of $50 or so from multiple sources.
That wasn’t true this time, as Ranger Enterprises of Seymour stepped up with a $1,000 donation.
“That pretty much took care of it,” Malone said.
The idea to serve the community came about three years ago by the D’Arcos, who own Bubba’s Place in Seymour, and Malone, who owns the pizza shop where the meals are prepared and packaged.
Home Depot created boxes of foam panels to keep meals warm during the delivery process. Some of the meals were taken as far as Jennings County.
“We take some to Commiskey,” Malone said. That small Jennings County community is 18 miles away. The meal also is delivered to nearly every community in Jackson County, including Sparksville, which is 26 miles southwest of Seymour.
The event also has evolved because meals are not just for those in need but for the men and women sacrificing their Christmas for their job.
“We take them to all the people who have to work today,” Malone said. That includes police and ambulance crews and even clerks working in convenience stores.
“They’re for anyone who has to be away from family today,” he said.
Moody said he learned about the meal after talking to Malone at On the Rox, where Moody works security.
He volunteered for the second event a year ago and liked the idea so well he decided to come back, he said. He also recruited Lane and his son. All three were involved in preparing the meal.
“I just enjoyed doing this,” Moody said.
And if he wasn’t involved in this effort, he said, “I’d be looking for a way to help someone out.”
“This is what Christmas is all about.”
Volunteer Leon Lane, on serving meals to local residents in need