The Christmas party returns; Volunteers, donations still needed for a special free dinner | Local news

Returning for the ninth year in a row, the annual Cleburne Christmas Party takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 25 at Winston Patrick McGregor Park, 1628 W. Henderson St.

Everyone is welcome. The food is fresh, hot, delicious, plentiful, and most importantly, free.

Event organizer Michelle Moralez, the Times-Review’s 2021 Woman of the Year, came up with the idea behind the party a decade ago while considering ways to reach the forgotten and / or left behind at Christmas.

“So it’s a free Christmas treat with all the trimmings for anyone who wants to come,” Moralez said. “Whether it’s because you don’t have enough food to eat or you’re all alone or just hungry, everyone is welcome. “

Having taken place in several venues over the years, the party returns to McGregor Park for the second year in a row.

“We used the location last year because of COVID-19,” Moralez said. “Because of that, most of the meals we served were delivered or picked up at the curb. This year, people can sit down and eat again. All our volunteers and servers will of course wear masks, visors and gloves. We will also continue to have curbside pickup and delivery. “

Loaf’N Dog owner Casey Waits will once again oversee delivery operations.

“Thank goodness for Casey,” Moralez said. “It makes my day so much easier. “

Waits jumped on board to help with deliveries three years ago.

“I just wanted to get involved after seeing how invested Michelle and everyone else is about it,” Waits said. “They all have such a good heart and the fact that they are able to nurture so many each year amazes me. I love to see how everyone involved put so much effort into the Christmas party and it really has become one of my favorite things about Christmas now.

Cleburne businessman Fernando Rodriguez, who has helped Moralez with locations and logistics for other events since the Fiesta began, agrees.

“Yes, my family and I will definitely be there again this year to help, as we have done every year,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a day we all look forward to.”

As in previous years, Rodriguez collects toy donations at Apos Boot Outlet, 110 E. Chambers St. in Cleburne, and Apos Flooring, 4740 US 67 in Alvarado.

“Christmas is about giving and sharing love with others,” Rodriguez said. “So I think of the children who will not otherwise have toys or gifts this Christmas but who, thanks to donations from people, will receive a toy this Christmas day.

“And so I think it’s important for anyone who can donate knowing that everything we collect will be distributed on Christmas Day during the holiday.”

Moralez added that she was thrilled beyond belief that her idea of ​​reaching out to others on Christmas Day has become a Cleburne tradition thanks to the help of Rodriguez, Waits, Randy and Becky Hightower at Bread Connection. , the Cleburne Fire Department and countless others.

“It has become beyond anything I imagined 10 years ago,” Moralez said. “The best part was seeing this desire to help and reach out to others by so many people and the fact that by working together we were able to help so many people and make a difference for their Christmas vacation.

“It’s great to see so many businesses, churches and groups stepping in to help each year. Most of all I always like to see parents who show up with their children to help them. They discover the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

But help is still needed, Moralez added.

“Last year we served around 900 meals, but it was a bit low because of the pandemic,” Moralez said. “In the previous two years, we had exceeded 1,100 meals at Christmas.

“So yes, all of the above, we need donations, money and volunteers.”

To volunteer, donate, or request a meal delivery, call Moralez at 817-933-8168. Donations can also be dropped off at The Bread Connection, 409 W. Henderson St. in Cleburne during business hours.

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