Volunteers around the city are spending time on Christmas to serve meals to the city’s homeless. At the Bowery Mission in Manhattan, which is open 365 days a year serving three meals a day, volunteers helped homeless get out of the cold and get a hot meal. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
Christmas at the Bowery Mission on the Lower East Side is much like every other day of the year, with hundreds of people sleeping in the chapel overnight.
For James Macklin, the Mission’s director of operations who was homeless himself at one point, they could never close their doors.
“The weather is brutal and they need a place of warmth and we want to be one of the best caregivers in the City of New York. We want to be who we say we are, caring for the least the lost and the lonely,” Macklin said.
The Mission serves more than 380,000 meals to the less fortunate every year. On Christmas, the staff and volunteers serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“A warm meal just to fuel their body with nutrition, so we are with our fat content, it goes up a little bit, so hearty and nourishing and keeping them warm,” said chef Ping Lo.
“It's so much better to give than receive, so we're giving out something tangible that can meet people's needs,” said volunteer Kelly DeJesus.
The care and kindness here extends beyond the holidays. Thousands of bags of groceries from the pantry are distributed.
Good Samaritans like Harriet Miller stopped by to donate coats.
“Everybody should. Every store, every retailer should donate whatever they can,” said volunteer Harriet Miller.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and his wife Veronica stopped by to thank volunteers as well.
“It's a community effort, but it really is, I think for us, it’s inspirational,” said Kelly.
Many homeless men and women here say they just don't know where they'd go if it weren't for the Mission, which is open 365 days a year.
“They give you a bed. They give you food. They give you shelter,” said one man.
“It's helps to get out of the cold and, you know, they give you food, clothes. They try to help,” said another.
Officials at the Mission say this year there are more and more people to serve and their resources are often stretched thin.
To learn how to help, go to www.bowery.org.