Bridging RVA prepares over 2,700 Christmas dinners for people in need

Christmas just isn't complete without a hot meal. For those who are struggling to make that happen nonprofits like Bridging RVA are stepping in to make sure tho
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 7:37 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Christmas just isn’t complete without a hot meal, and for those struggling to make that happen, nonprofits like Bridging RVA are stepping in to make sure thousands don’t go without this season.

Wednesday, the charity was hard at work prepping enough meals to serve more than 2,700 meals to people in need. Bridging RVA executive Director Lee Ann Sawyer says that social services connect them to people and families who would otherwise have trouble having a meal during Christmas.

“Most of us have traditions, and we have traditional food that we have at Christmas time, and we don’t have to think twice about our meal or if we’re going to have a meal,” Sawyer said. “We’re beginning to prepare the Christmas day dinners that are going to be delivered on Christmas Day.”

Sawyer says the nonprofit served 250 people at its first dinner back in 2014, and since its inception, they’ve grown its efforts tenfold.

“Every year, it was growing, and we were getting 50 percent more people, and we got up to about 1400 people to sit down for a meal together,” Sawyer said.

However, during the pandemic, social distancing meant Bridging RVA could no longer host in-person dinners, so Sawyer says they pivoted to a drive-thru model where they would prepare the meals and then drive to those homes in need to drop off their food personally.

Last year, Sawyer says they delivered more than 2,400 meals; this year, they are expected to deliver another 2,700.

“We have people packing 6,000 cookies, we’re chopping up 750 pounds of turkey, and I can’t even tell you how much green beans and macaroni and cheese we’re making,” she said.

Despite the task of preparing thousands of meals, Sawyer says Bridging RVA operates on the support of hundreds of volunteers to make the Christmas Dinners possible. For seven of the eight years the organization has been making Christmas Dinners, Bon Air Presbyterian has offered up its kitchen to Bridging RVA to prepare the meals.

“Everything we have is meant to be something that serves and brings light and love to people, especially this season,” Bon Air Pastor Alex Creager said. “It’s a great model and a great vision for how we can love and serve and come together.”

Returning volunteers like Hillary Wilkins says making Christmas complete for those in need makes the hard work worth it. Last year she says she was part of the delivery process, but this year she’s decided to volunteer for the food preparation.

“I cried when I left last year delivering meals to families,” Wilkins said. “If you’re able to give back, you should give back. It’s your good deed to others.”

“It takes a village to pull this off. We are a very small nonprofit in the Richmond area, and we have sponsors and people who get behind us and say yes, this is important to our community,” Sawyer said. “It’s not just Bridging RVA; we’re there and available to make it happen, but everyone else just pours into it.”

Sawyer says there is no longer a need for volunteers for this year’s Christmas Dinner, and Bridging RVA is no longer adding people to the list of deliveries for this Christmas. However, the organization says the need goes far behind the holiday season.

Sawyer says there will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the new year, and if you would like to support Bridging RVA, you can do so HERE or call 804-496-1594 or email at INFO@BRIDGINGRVA.ORG.