Dec 25, 2010 7:23 PM by Matt Stafford

Serving up some Christmas cheer

In Colorado Springs, thousands -- with no where to go -- are turning to the Salvation Army for a holiday meal.

"I live alone and have been unemployed," says Sel Bethel, a Christmas diner at the Salvation Army offices on South Weber St. It's not an uncommon story; Bethel sees plenty of others around the room.

"It shows me that we're all in the same boat and we all got to help each other."

Bethel is just happy to have people to eat with this Christmas, and food on his plate. He's one of about 5,000 that the Salvation Army is feeding in El Paso County. However, locally, the staff at the Salvation Army isn't that big. Pulling off a job like this one depends on hundreds of volunteers.

"Giving back doesn't always have to be with monetary gifts, just with time -- helping people," explains Katrina Strange, a volunteer. It's a lesson Strange is learning with her whole family; hoping to get her daughters excited about helping others.

As for Benjamin Hamik -- chief dishwasher or tray cleaner extraordinaire -- most young men his age would much rather be opening presents than washing dishes, but the reason he wanted to join his family helping out shows he's wise beyond his years.

"It helps people in need, and presents aren't as important." Hamik says, as he finishes off cleaning another tray.

"It's a time when it's easy to be selfish and it's easy to be on your own and just huddle with your own family, but what we see here is people that have made a choice to go beyond themselves, and I can't thank people enough for that," says Capitan John Bennett of the Salvation Army. He didn't have a dollar figure for today's meal, but said it takes a lot of volunteers and a lot of money.

Bethel knows it's been a tough year, for him and others, and he's thankful for the help. Watching its effect through a meal like this one, Bethel says its no mystery -- people do better when they get a little help. It gives him a good feeling as well.

"It puts a smile on my face." Bethel says.

That's part of the goal.



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