50 years of Christmas meals: South Side Mission prepares deliveries to continue tradition

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – A Peoria non-profit is getting set to deliver thousands of meals to the community this Christmas Eve.

This week is the start of preparation for South Side Mission’s 50th Christmas Meal Ministry.

Friday, volunteers helped prepare pies, cranberries, and rolls for the annual tradition.

The meals will be delivered to community members in need on Christmas Eve. South Side Mission will also host a sit-down dinner in the organization’s gymnasium starting at 11:30 a.m.

Organizers said there have been more requests for Christmas meals than Thanksgiving this year, which is rare.

“Seems like when you start to recover from covid, then we get a new variant so that has some thrown some wrinkles into it. The nice thing is to see there are people who are stepping up, and South Side Mission is just pleased to be one of those groups. We kind of feel that’s our mission, to meet that need out there in the community.”

Rich Draeger, development director at South Side Mission.

Draeger added that the event allows people to have a hot meal while sharing the holiday with other community members.

“When we go out and deliver these meals, we hear time and time again, yes the meal is very well wanted and needed, but it’s really the visit from somebody at this time of the year that really brings up the spirits for everybody involved,” Draeger said.

South Side Mission expects about 2,500 meals to be prepared this year.

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