Community cares: Jacksonville groups prepare, serve meals on Christmas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you're down on your luck or homebound and need help with a meal this Christmas Day, several charitable organizations in Jacksonville are stepping in.

Meals on Wheels

Aging True Community Senior Services, The Jacksonville Jewish Center and Congregation Ahavath Chesed (The Temple) will partner for their annual holiday meal delivery in celebration of the Christmas holiday and the Hebrew tradition of Mitzvah.

On Christmas Day, volunteers from the Jewish Center and the Congregation Ahavath Chesed will deliver over 400 holiday meals to homebound seniors and disabled residents in Duval County. The meals, part of Aging True’s Meals on Wheels program, are critical to the residents they serve, who might not have visitors or a hot, nutritious meal on Christmas Day.  

The Temple and The Jacksonville Jewish Center volunteers will prepare the meals on Christmas morning, a menu which includes baked chicken, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables and a treat for dessert. The volunteers will then personally deliver the meals on Christmas Day beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Students from Ortega Elementary School and Boy Scout Cub Pack No. 412 have contributed by decorating holiday cards to accompany the meals and spread holiday cheer to the recipients.  

“We are so honored to continue this annual holiday tradition with the Jacksonville Jewish Center and Congregation Ahavath Chesed. For nearly 30 years, they have prepared meals for our clients and we could not be more appreciative of them and their commitment to the seniors in our community,” said Teresa K. Barton, CEO of Aging True. “Our seniors are touched by the selfless act on behalf of the members of their community -- they look forward to the event as much as we do.”

These acts of kindness are a cornerstone of Jewish living, according to Wiatt Bowers from Congregation Ahavath Chesed.

“Kindness is appreciated throughout the year, but carries special weight during the holidays,” said Bowers. “Through participation in Aging True’s Meals on Wheels program, we are blessed with the ability to extend that kindness to our community’s homebound seniors and disabled residents.” 

The Aging True Meals on Wheels program promotes senior health, vitality and independence for those it serves. In addition, the daily interaction between the drivers and recipients allows for ongoing evaluation of each client’s changing needs. In Duval County alone, Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers travel nearly 300 miles per day, delivering nearly 270,000 hot and frozen meals annually.

Sulzbacher breakfast

At 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sulzbacher board members, volunteers and staff will serve a hearty sit-down holiday breakfast to approximately 600 people on Christmas morning -- over 360 Sulzbacher residents and hundreds in the community meal line. All will receive a Christmas stocking with small gifts.   

Following breakfast, over 60 homeless children living at Sulzbacher Village will gather at 7:30 a.m. in the Children's Department with their parents, where Santa will give each child their gifts. 

"Christmas morning is always a special time at the Sulzbacher but especially this year. This will be our first Christmas at our new women and families campus, Sulzbacher Village. I am always overwhelmed by the support of our amazing volunteers and staff who spend their morning serving at Sulzbacher,” said Cindy Funkhouser, President and CEO of Sulzbacher. “We are so grateful to each organization and individual who volunteers during this season of giving and I thank all who worked tirelessly to brighten the Christmas season for our residents." 

Salvation Army meal

The Salvation Army in Jacksonville will serve a special free Christmas meal for the community on Tuesday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Towers Center of Hope at 900 W. Adams St. downtown.

The free meal is intended for people who don’t have the resources for a special Christmas meal, but all are welcome to attend.

Attendees may arrive and be served anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  

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