By Eric Norwood Jr.
CNJ staff writer
As the line at Lighthouse Mission grew longer Christmas morning, volunteer Jesse Karges could no longer make them continue waiting.
“It was cold outside, I couldn’t make them wait,” said Karges, 36, with a smile, about opening the doors to the mission’s annual community dinner Wednesday a half hour before the scheduled 11 a.m. start.
It is Karges’ fourth year of volunteering for the Christmas Day event, designed to feed the needy and anyone else who wants to attend. She has also volunteered during Thanksgiving.
Karges, 36, was teeming with excitement as greeted dinners and volunteers alike while manning the sign-in desk.
“I love helping people. It brings so much joy to my heart,” said Karges, who said she began volunteering at Lighthouse during in 2010 at the urging of a friend.
“We volunteered that year, and ever since then I’ve enjoyed it quite tremendously,” said Karges, who works as a secretary at a Clovis business.
There were more than 125 people who showed up for the meal were treated to mashed potatoes and gravy, ham, stuffing, cake and more. At least there was plenty of help at the Lighthouse Mission, where there were more than 80 volunteers.
Juan Salinas was one of the more than 80 volunteers at the event.
Salinas, 28, of Houston showed up with four of his fellow airmen.
“We were in town for some training, and since we couldn’t be with our own families, we figured we’d come down and lend a hand,” said Salinas, who could be seen serving plates and sweeping the floors all afternoon.
Elizabeth Madrigal of Clovis enjoyed her meal with her son and daughter-in-law, and her four grandchildren.
“I’m glad I could be with family. It makes me feel really happy to see other without families get to sit down and enjoy a good meal on Christmas too,” said Madrigal.
Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without presents. Karges passed out homemade gifts donated anonymously to all the children. Some contained Christmas themed sweets, while others contained beanies and gloves for the kids.
“I love seeing all of the smiling faces, especially the joy of the kids, and it’s just quite rewarding, I have to say,” Karges said.