Volunteer Pat Triquet serves less neighbors at Mission Change’s annual Christmas Eve Brunch. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — 'Tis the season of giving, and volunteers at this year’s Christmas Eve Brunch hosted by Mission Change were more than happy to give the gift of love.
Moe than 200 volunteers spent Christmas Eve morning at First United Methodist Church filling care packages, singing carols and preparing and serving breakfast to more than 250 less fortunate neighbors in Albany.
The brunch, started by Mission Change six years ago, is one of the organization’s largest local mission activities of the year and has grown into a holiday tradition of sorts, said Mission Change co-founder LaDonna Urick.
“We’re so excited,” said Urick. “It grows throughout the day and has grown every year.”
Urick went on to say that typically the brunch draws anywhere from 200 to 250 volunteers. She was pleased to see several new faces in the crowd.
“There are lots of new people this year,” Urick said. “Which is great. We want to see more people get involved.”
Volunteers started arriving at the church around 9 a.m. to begin preparing the morning meal and setting up tables where volunteers stuffed care bags full of much needed items such as shampoo, deodorant, thermal hats, scarves, gloves and bottled water. Each bag also included a little bit of candy for fun. The bags were then distributed to neighbor guests in need.
The neighborhood guests arrived early and poured into the church’s fellowship hall at 10 a.m. seeking warmth, a hot cup of coffee and a nourishing breakfast.
Volunteers treated the guests to Christmas carols and smiles as they served the meal and took time to sit at each table and get to the visitors.
When breakfast at the church ended, volunteer teams then set out for Hudson Malone Towers to deliver care bags and meals to people at the apartment building.
“We walk over singing carols and wish them a Merry Christmas,” Urick said. “Including Hudson Malone Towers, we serve about 275 people.”
Urick said that while the Christmas Eve Brunch is a great time for giving to those less fortunate, she is quick to remind everyone that giving should continue year round.
“All year long we serve in the community,” Urick said. “So we invite everyone to come out and join us.”
Mission Change is a not-for-profit organization established in 2007 by Urick and her husband, Todd, with the mission of raising money and awareness for local individuals, causes and organizations in need.
Anyone wanting to learn more about the organization and how to get involved can visit the Mission Change website at www.missionchange.com.