Christmas meals for those in need

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SARASOTA, Fla.-- Many of us spend Christmas with family enjoying a big feast, but some on the Suncoast will spend the day without family or food.

Many homeless and elderly have no where to go and no meal on Christmas. Suncoast food banks and non-profit organizations provide meals before Christmas and are not open on Christmas Eve or Christmas day; but there is a place where the entire community is welcome, The Salvation Army.

"We don't ever close as far as the kitchen and the shelter. So, always open, helping people because people don't just need outside the holidays,” says Major Debbie Bower, the Corp. Officer for the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is open 365 days a year striving to give back and serve those in need. Extra volunteers have already been preparing the special meal for an estimated 600 people.

"It's just a marvelous, marvelous time and anybody is welcome. anybody without family, people who are in need, people who can't get out and be with their families; they're always welcome here,” says Martha Erickson, a client of the Salvation Army.

Erickson is a recovering addict and says the Salvation Army saved her life. This holiday season, she is overwhelmed with the amount people sacrificing their Christmas to serve her and others.

"It is something that makes me feel that when i do leave here, that it's my turn to give back,” says Erickson.

The homeless say there are not many places they can go, especially during the holidays.

"The salvation army, right here, is the only place that most homeless have to go for a meal,” says Larry Griffith, a homeless veteran.

Griffith says he appreciates the Salvation Army and all they do to make Christmas special for those without.

"For every little crumb that falls in my lap, I am grateful and I thank the good Lord," says Griffith.

On Christmas day, the Salvation Army of Sarasota and the Salvation Army of Manatee will hold Christmas dinners, as well as Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.