But the two hours Sunday night that saw hundreds of volunteers prepare 600 boxes of food for Rome’s needy families at First Presbyterian Church signaled one of the biggest projects that the church does.
“For our church family, it’s been a tradition for many years,” said Doss, whose father, Jim Doss, was one of the original organizers of the program.
“The food is important, but for our volunteers it’s about feeling the true Christmas spirit.”
Families that receive the boxes are qualified through Good Neighbor Ministries and will pick them up today at the church from 8 a.m. to noon.
The person who prepares each box says a prayer after it is completed, and the volunteers who return to give out the boxes today will have a Christmas prayer with the family.
“This is one of the most important things that we do all year long as a church, in my opinion,” Phil Wood said. “It’s not enough just to talk about God’s love, but to show it as well.”
For Wood, a deacon at the church, the annual event has special meaning for him and his family.
It was 10 years ago — when his wife, Kathy, was pregnant with their first child — that they came to help package the food for the Food Box Ministry days after she was due.
After some back-and-forth with doctors on when to induce labor, Kathy gave birth to their son, Jackson Wood, on Dec. 16, the day after they had prepared numerous boxes at First Presbyterian.
“We were hoping that lifting the boxes and moving around would help out,” Phil Wood said.
What it boils down to, as Kathy Wood says, is that Jackson has been a part of preparing the boxes of food his entire life. He was there Sunday, helping with friends, on his birthday.
“It’s fun,” Jackson said, as he filled his second box of the night. “The whole time I’ve been doing this it’s been amazing. Since this is our community, and since this is our church, I love to come here and help out.”
Phil Wood explained that both Jackson and his younger brother Jaden, 6, began coming to the Sunday night preparation as soon as they were able to pick up items and put them into boxes.
“It’s so important for them to know that not everyone has these blessings,” he said.
Each box weighs more than 40 pounds and is meant to feed a family of four for a week. It includes items such as soup, peanut butter and jelly, stuffing, cans of pumpkin and cranberry sauce, fresh fruit, and bread.
When a family comes to pick up their box today they will also receive a frozen chicken and a Bible from Gideons International.
Rome Action Ministries, Southeastern Mills and Rome Paper Co. donated food and supplies to the church for the program this year.