Northstate joins together for 24th annual Christmas Eve dinner
OROVILLE, Calif. - Over 1,000 people joined together Sunday for the 24th annual Christmas dinner hosted by the Oroville Rescue Mission, City of Oroville and Community Action Agency of Butte County.
It was held at the Oroville Municipal Auditorium, but people from all over the Northstate came to share the Christmas meal. The hosts had enough to feed an expected 1,500 people. After just one hour, over 500 people had been served.
The first stop for most was probably the line for mashed potatoes, ham, green beans and more, but after that Santa was waiting on stage to give all the children in attendance presents.
"Merry Christmas, ho ho ho!," Santa bellowed.
After the families had enough to eat, they even had the opportunity to pick out some new clothes and were sent home with even more treats. The best part, everything was free.
"Tears come to my eyes, it just... There's nothing like the feeling that we get out of this it's just what we do," said Reverend Steve Terry, executive director of the Oroville Rescue Mission.
From those the Mission does it for, that same gratitude.
"It's really, it kind of gets me emotional because of the fact that if this wasn't here, I mean 90 percent of the people that are in Oroville would never come together and never have the chance to come down here," explained Timothy Kincaid.
Here every year since it started, Kincaid and his family said they wouldn't have a dinner like this without the event. This year was even more special because Kincaid's 6-year-old daughter Kaylyn won a brand new bike. "When I get to the car I'm gonna be so excited," Kaylyn said.
She's one of 10, thanks to a nonprofit started by 17-year old Kayla Lindquist and 18-year-old Natalie Krantz. In August they founded Riley's Red Bike and since it's raised $800 to go towards giving free bikes to kids.
"Just doing this today, it brings me so much happiness to finally see kids who have nothing get something," Lindquist said. "It's really eye-opening," agreed Krantz. "It means a lot. It's amazing to see what a difference we can make," added Lindquist.
It's a community effort from the participants to the volunteers. "Everybody's real thankful and happy and so I really enjoy it," said Chuck Copp, a volunteer.
There was plenty of happiness and holiday cheer, but even with the toys, bikes, food and clothes, for some, it was still the simple things that mattered most.
"[Like] being together with family," said 14-year-old Alex Kincaid.
The Oroville Rescue Mission said it costs about $10,000 to put this event on each year. Staff only start collecting donations in October and by Christmas Eve they have enough to feed up to 1,500 people.
Anyone who would like to donate can visit Oroville Rescue Mission's website here, or call them at 530-533-9120.