NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The Peninsula Rescue Mission helps out men in Hampton Roads in all sorts of ways.
Christmas Eve, they helped make sure they got served holiday cheer and so much more with their annual Christmas Eve dinner.
“This is the hinge that everything spins on,” Faith DeFriese, Accountant and Volunteer Coordinator for the Peninsula Rescue Mission told News 3.
The mission has been a part of DeFriese's family for three generations ever since her grandfather founded it in 1966.
“It's so much of my life is wrapped up in the mission,” she said.
For her, Christmas Eve is not only a family tradition, but also a mission tradition.
“I remember coming down with my grandparents and doing this with them, and then we'd go back to their house and exchange gifts,” DeFriese said. “This is just the center of Christmas for our family.”
She and others serve up dinner for men from around the community.
“I'm picturing the guys,” DeFriese said. “I think about their stories and what's brought them here.”
Chris Jackson was one of about three dozen people served dinner at the mission Thursday.
He first came to the mission last week.
“It's a blessing to be here,” Jackson told News 3. “I thank them. I thank God for everything they're doing for us.”
For him, the holidays are special.
“People coming around with family and friends, and everybody's just enjoying life and having a good time,” he said.
He and others not only got a meal, but a gift to celebrate Christmas.
“Having the opportunity to make Christmas special for guys who don't have anywhere else to go,” DeFriese said. “When you really stop and think about that, if you had anywhere else to be on Christmas Eve, you would be there, and so they can be here.”
“It means a big deal to me because a lot of people don't get gifts and stuff,” Jackson added. “So, for them to come around and give people gifts, it really means something.”
While this year’s event may look a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the season of giving, many are giving some who've faced challenges a Christmas to remember.
Full plates, full hearts and high hopes for whatever may lie ahead.
“You’ve got to keep your head up, keep the faith [and] keep hope alive. Everything's going to get better,” Jackson said. “We fall down sometimes, but we can get ourselves back up.”