Conrad Center expects 800 for Christmas dinner

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A lot of people have been hit by hard times this year, making an extravagant Christmas celebration virtually impossible. But one group is getting ready to make sure everyone gets a taste of some holiday cheer. From 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Christmas Day, volunteers will be serving dinner to anyone in need.

Early Friday morning, volunteers will be making their lists and checking them twice. They're making sure they have everything they need to serve a traditional holiday meal to hundreds of Richmond's homeless. For one man, the good deed is "pay back," but in a good way.

Just a few years ago, Theo Woodson was living on the street, surviving only by taking advantage of services at The Freedom House. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. He's the program director at The Conrad Center and spends every Christmas making sure everyone leaves with a full belly, a present and a smile.

Last Christmas Day the center served 540 people in need. This year, Theo expects around 800 for a traditional holiday meal.

"A lot of people have gotten into crisis situations because of the economy, lost their jobs, fixed incomes," said Woodson.

The center got some good news Thursday. One group called the NBC12 newsroom and told us they had toys to donate and wanted to make sure those gifts were given out this Christmas instead of waiting until next year. We set them up with Theo and now there are 100 extra gifts for kids to choose Christmas morning.

Woodson calls the donors and volunteers angels. He grew up poor and spent seven years on the streets, and said sharing the blessings of his new life, is all he will ever want for Christmas.

"When those kids come in here, I see myself when I was young," he said. "When I see them, I see me. And when they smile, they are the smiles that I didn't have."

The Conrad Center is even providing shuttle buses to bring those who have no transportation.  The buses will make stops throughout the city all day long. To view the times and locations click here.

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