Salvation Army Christmas dinner feeds thousands in Phoenix

PHOENIX - Volunteers with the Salvation Army stepped up to serve more than 7,000 hot meals to those in need on Christmas Day.

It was a true Christmas celebration at the location near Van Buren and 3rd streets complete with music and toys for the kids.

For many struggling families, it reminded them of the true meaning of the holiday.

People say it gave them a chance to be thankful for their families and all of the volunteers who made it all possible.

For Lydia Rico, this is a family tradition. She grew up going to Salvation Army Christmas dinners with her mom.

Now she and her five sisters take their children here.

"We come, we have fun and we see each other. We take the pictures and it's memories for us," Rico said.

It hasn't been easy for these Rico and her mom, Beverly Martin.

"It's kind of hard to make ends meet, but we make it and we survive," Martin said, as she ate Christmas dinner with her grandchild on her lap.

"I'm working paycheck to paycheck, everyone's working paycheck to paycheck. It's hard to just provide," her daughter said.

But as they gathered around the table, they put that aside.

"It means a lot to us. I'm grateful to be with my family and to be alive," Martin said.

They're also grateful for people like Norman Palmer and Myra Singer, who give their time on Christmas to make all of this possible.

"I'm 86, and I hope I've got many more years to do it," Palmer said.

They've spent Christmas spreading holiday cheer to others for more than 15 years.

"People do not feel like they're getting charity. They're very happy when they come in. It makes us happy to be able to do something like this," Singer said.

One day Rico hopes her children will join the volunteers and bring a new tradition to the family.

"So hopefully we can volunteer one day and be on the other side," she said.

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