Hundreds gather to celebrate the holidays at the Rockford Rescue Mission’s annual Christmas Banquet

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For many of us the Christmas holiday is a time to take a break from work and get together with family and friends.  Some volunteer their time to brighten the day of those who have fallen on hard times, like those at the Rockford Rescue Mission’s annual Christmas Banquet.  Over 500 people came to the Mission to take part in the holiday festivities, and diners say, while the food is good, the best part of the Banquet is having a place to go and  people to celebrate with.

“The Mission is full of love today for everyone”, said Tracey Creed.

Santa hats, Christmas trees, and smiling faces filled the room at the Rockford Rescue Mission for their annual Christmas Banquet.  The goal of the Banquet is making sure everyone feels the Christmas spirit while having a place to come together for the holidays.

“Everyone deserves to have a Christmas dinner”, Crystal Savage, Director of Development, said.
Leandrae Blackman said, “I don’t really have much family this Christmas so it feels good to surround myself with good people”.
“They know that they are loved and they’re not alone. You know they think they’re alone out there in the homeless world but they’re not alone”, Creed added.

The Mission’s Director of Development Crystal Savage says visitors had a full Christmas meal with ham, potatoes and all the trimmings, and lots of cakes.  Like one big family dinner.

“You see familiar faces that come in, you get to know the people in the community that aren’t able to provide their meals in their home so it just becomes part of our extended family”, Savage said.
Savage added, “so much fun to hear the people staying in our crisis areas talk about spending their holiday with us”.

Those who attended the meal have been counting down the days to the 24th.  They have been looking forward to being able to celebrate the holidays with old friends, and some new ones.

“He kind of got stranded out here too so we’ve just been talking, been uplifting, encouraging. You know it’s important for us to be encouraging and loving during this time because you never know what people are going through”, Blackman said.
Blackman continued, “I’ve been excited this entire Christmas day, well the last two days really”.
“It feels great, it feels beautiful it gives you just a warm feeling inside”, Creed said.

Guests didn’t just leave with a full stomach.  Presents, like blankets and hoodies for adults, and stuffed animals for the kids were given out to everyone as they left the Mission Banquet.

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