BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As many people sat down with family to enjoy a Christmas meal, hundreds of those less fortunate gathered at St. Vincent de Paul for the annual Christmas celebration.
It's a Christmas Day tradition rich in love and joy as volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul gave back to those in need. Derick Alba volunteered this year for the first time, but he said it will not be his last.
"You see this on TV every year and kind of say to yourself that you should be doing the same thing and chipping in," Alba said.
Down the line, Lynley Dornier volunteered at the dessert table. It's something she has done for the past ten years in a row. She said it's a labor of love that means the world to her.
"If you can do something, an act of service, by giving one day or one hour, whatever, to another human being to make their afternoon wonderful, it is very special," Dornier added.
As the doors opened, the crowds were overwhelming, with people waiting most of the afternoon to get a hot meal. It's not just the stuffing, turkey, and ham on the menu though. What keeps most of these folks coming back is the side of compassion and dignity also served up each year.
"It's all about the people," Joseph Stelly said. "The sharing and the caring and the hospitality that they give and I just thank God for these people."
"It's beautiful you know, and I'm from Baton Rouge," added Tommy Wilson. "It's real nice to have something like this."
Wilson has been coming to eat Christmas dinner at St. Vincent de Paul for close to a decade and he said having people willing to help others is a blessing.
"I thank God for this man," Wilson said. "You couldn't ask for nothing better than this."
Many volunteers said there is truly no better place to be on Christmas morning.