(This story is reprinted with permission of Bobby Smith and the Daily Corinthian.)
No one needs to spend Christmas alone.
This is the idea that led to the creation of the Crossroads Christmas Day meal.
“Whatever the reason is, we don’t want them to spend Christmas by themselves like nobody cares,” said Tommy Wilson, founder of Living Free Ministries, a faith-based addiction recovery center in Corinth. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re an inmate out there wearing green and white stripes or a guy wearing a pair of blue jeans.”
After four years of holding the annual traditional Christmas meal at Living Free Ministries just off U.S. Highway 72 behind Magnolia Funeral Home, the event is growing into a new home at Alcorn Central High School.
Wilson and his partner in ministry, wife Marea, said it is a great blessing for Alcorn Central to open its doors to the meal.
Alcorn Central Principal Brandon Quinn said he and his staff had been discussing some way to provide a Christmas meal for the last couple of years.
“I went to Tommy and Marea and said, ‘I know you’re doing this. I don’t want to step on your toes. Can we do this together?’ They jumped on board,” said Quinn. “Tommy and Marea work with a lot of these adults, and these adults have kids that we see walking these halls every day. They need meals and they need somewhere to go on Christmas.”
Quinn said the school has also received permission to use two buses to pick up kids and parents for the meal.
In addition to the people who come to the school, this year’s Christmas meal will feed a group of people who may be having an especially blue Christmas this year — the inmates at the Alcorn County Justice Center.
Sheriff Ben Caldwell said programs like Living Free make a great difference in the lives of the people behind bars at the Justice Center.
“You can’t have enough of that,” Caldwell said. “It’s just a super, super thing you guys are doing. A lot of these folks in there make mistakes, but they’re not bad folks.”
Wilson said they will bring at least 400 plates to the Justice Center to feed the state and local inmates, as well as the employees on duty that day. They will deliver the meals to the Justice Center early in the day, with the Alcorn Central cafeteria opening around 10:30 a.m. for the sit-down meal which will continue until roughly 3:30 p.m.
By all indications, this year’s Christmas Day meal will be the biggest yet.
“Last year we had over 500,” said Wilson. “This year we’ll feed over a thousand people that day counting the jail people.”
With that many meals to provide, Living Free can use the community’s help in two areas: food and cash. They need any kind of food that would be at home in a traditional Christmas meal as well as homemade desserts. Cash donations are needed for meal-related expenses including cups, paper plates and to-go boxes.
Desserts can be dropped off at Living Free Ministries on Christmas Eve, and food for the Christmas Day meal can be dropped off early that day at Alcorn Central High School.
Marea emphasized that the meal is not just for people who are having problems or struggling, but for anyone who wants to show up.
“The main thing about the Christmas Day meal is it doesn’t have anything to do with drugs or alcohol or addiction at all,” she said. “It’s Christmas Day, and we just want to open it up so nobody has to be alone or hungry. Because Christmas is not what it appears on TV and the commercials — but it’s the best day to give hope to somebody.”
She added, “That’s what that day is about for me. Sharing some hope.”
(For more information, contact Marea Wilson at 662-643-7298 or via email at email@example.com or by calling Alcorn Central High School at 662-286-8720.)