Faces of Kansas City: Providing senior citizens with a warm meal - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Faces of Kansas City: Providing senior citizens with a warm Christmas meal

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The holidays are a time for family, but what happens when the family is gone?

As a cop in the Westport area back in the 1970s, Richard White realized too many senior citizens were all alone.

"I noticed on calls they were by themselves because their children had jobs across the country and couldn't get home. These people are by themselves and that's no way to spend Christmas," he said.

For more than three decades, White has provided free Christmas Day meals to senior citizens who otherwise would be alone. He's the driving force behind KC Senior Citizen Christmas Dinner.

And KCTV5 has been there right along with him. Archived video shows former Channel 5 reporter Thurman Mitchell's coverage in 1989. We were there as White served Christmas dinner back in 1981.

It takes an army of volunteers to help pull off this annual event. Every year more than 200 Kansas Citians give up a part of their Christmas Day to make this meal a little more special for the guests.

"They're so happy. They come in smiling, we give them a pendent and they're so proud of that," White said.

"It's beautiful and lovely and I know all the people. We're all growing older together," said one senior citizen enjoying a meal in a previous interview.

The hard part is finding the money to pay for it all, so every year White walks his old police beat asking businesses in Westport and the plaza to help cover the costs.

It's not really about the food White said - what this has evolved into is all about relationships.

"They're anxious to see their friends and they say 'I sat with Bessie last year and I want to sit with her' so you do because that person has become part of their family, as well," he said.

He may have a little more gray hair than he did back when this all began, but he's still just as passionate.

"Some of these people will start calling in September and say 'Are we still having a Christmas dinner?' I say after 30 years I guess I'll keep doing it because I'm not about to quit now," White said.

In previous years, more than 500 people were served free of charge.

Because of White's fundraising efforts, the generous donations from local businesses and the work of volunteers, the Christmas dinner lives on.

If a person is over 60 and doesn't have family in town to spend Christmas with, they are officially invited to a free dinner this year.

Call 816-572-2646 to make a reservation. This year there are four locations serving Christmas dinner. Go to kcseniorcitizendinner.com for a list of the locations.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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