Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless drew hundreds of volunteers and thousands of the city’s less fortunate to the Georgia World Congress Center for Christmas dinner this year.
After an all-night Christmas Eve cooking affair at the Dekalb County Jail that saw preparation of 700 turkeys, 2,000 pounds of chicken, 3,000 cans of vegetables and more, Wednesday’s Christmas feast provided many with a full stomach and a full heart. The event has been happening in Atlanta since 1970 when the late Rev. Hosea L. Williams fed 100 homeless men.
It is now spearheaded by his daughter, Elisabeth Omilami and her husband and also offers medical care, clothing, hot showers and barber and beautician services. Omilami told the Daily World during HFTHH’s Thanksgiving drive that those services have become some of the most necessary that the organization offers. She echoed that statement in an interview with WSB-TV during the organization’s Christmas event.
“When you can’t take a shower, you can’t brush your teeth, you can’t wash your hair, you have to wear the same pair of shoes for six months; those are things that we take for granted,” she said.
The event helped feed around 6,500 people and delivered another estimated 5,000 meals to area seniors and others who were unable to make the trip to the GWCC. While Omilami says that donations have decreased this year by about 30 percent and the need has been even greater, she’s grateful to the volunteers, many of whom have been attending the annual event for decades.
“I’ve been a volunteer for 32 years, I’ve never missed a Thanksgiving or Christmas in 32 years,” volunteer Nick Johnson told the station.
Omilami surmised that the reduction comes largely from increasing unemployment around the metro area. She says that “68 percent” of the organization’s donations come from individuals, many of whom were previously employed and now are not.
“We need to get to the point where corporations understand that we stabilize families, and stable families create stable communities,” she said.
The meal and offering of medical care and other services kicked off Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.