St. Vincent de Paul serves more than 800 meals during annual Christmas tradition

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - While Santa Claus traveled throughout the night to do his job, his elves in Baton Rouge were hard at work to prepare 832 Christmas meals to those in need.

Santa's workshop in Baton Rouge, better known as St Vincent de Paul, was busy with volunteers running around to get everything ready for the annual Christmas day of giving.

Volunteers, or elves, of all ages came together to carry on this annual tradition; serving hundreds of hot lunches on Christmas day.

Hot plates were passed through on an assembly line, then each plate was handed off to an elf who was ready to deliver.

Some of the elves are veterans who volunteered their time and effort, as a family, for over a decade now.

"It's a family tradition," said Matthew Theunissen, a volunteer. "You know it's always something to look forward to and as far as giving back to the community, it's always been very important. I think that she has taught us since we were young to give back."

Whether you're a new or seasoned volunteer, it's all about sharing the true spirit of Christmas.

"The spirit that is present in the people who are serving, the people who are receiving the food, the people that have cooked it, it's heartwarming," said Bishop Robert Muench of Baton Rouge.

That spirit is alive in all the volunteers at Santa's workshop, which extends outdoors int the courtyard of St. Vincent de Paul.

The organization also provides a distribution station stocked with blankets, clothes, shoes and fresh food.

"My favorite part is just the smiles that I can bring and the smiles that I get back in return," said Torrance Mouton, a volunteer.

Smiles shared as a result of spreading hope during a seemingly hopeless time for some.

"The people we serve are just like everyone else. They just may be in a hard spot in their lives and what a blessing it is to be there for them and you know, if you ask the volunteers what did you come for they'll say they came to give but they got back so much more than they ever gave because the people we serve is a blessing to be here for them and we really are making a difference," explained Michael Acaldo, CEO & President of St. Vincent de Paul.

As volunteers handed out hot meals and soft blankets, Santa's elves worked hard to spread love and warmth in more ways than one.

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