Hundreds of volunteers with the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner are cooking up enough food to feed an army. It’s a labor of love, that for a lot of families, has become a Christmas tradition.
The kitchen at Cox Convention Center is filled with volunteers cooking up pounds of potatoes, gallons of gravy and a ton of turkey.
"It is a well-oiled machine,” said volunteer Cathy Cummings. “We have kids like six and seven years old. We have elderly people. We have just everyone from all walks of life who are helping us out this year, and it is so appreciated. We love it."
Volunteer Briella Goldman, 9, said, "I like to work in the kitchen with the turkey, because I love to work with food.”
Goldman continued, “I kinda [sic] feel proud of myself, that I'm helping everyone. And that they’re happy after having a Christmas that we're making."
Just outside the kitchen, volunteers are bringing in Christmas presents and setting them up for children.
Christmas is the big day; the day when thousands of guests will arrive.
“They [kids] want to go shopping. Id' take them over, pick something out. You know it makes their entire year, and it's something they love to wear to school the next day,” said volunteer Sean Cummings.
Organizer Robert Goldman said, "The attitude of the people here, they're so excited to be down here. I can't tell you the number of calls I've gotten from volunteers asking when they can be here and when they can set up."
About 400 volunteers stepped up, and even more are needed on Christmas day. They could use more toys too. Organizers never know exactly how many children there will be, and no one is ever turned away from a hot meal and a gift.
The festivities start at 8:30 a.m. and last until 2:30 p.m.
For these volunteers, it’s what Christmas is all about.
"The pay is the smiles on the faces,” said Organizer Gary Goldman. “Seeing smiles on the faces. Hearing stories. Hearing stories from people that used to come as a guest and now have turned into being a volunteer. And those are very warming stories to hear."
Sean added, "You know if you've lost your faith in humanity, this is the day to show up."