DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas, volunteers rolled out the red carpet for 500 guests. Among them, Sharon Ammons. “It was great. I felt like a celebrity.”
They’re not only treated to lunch, but to a night’s stay here at the hotel. Ammons and the others here, who are just some of this city’s homeless or hungry, also received a generous helping of self-esteem.
“It’s Christmas Eve, because those people could have been home drinking egg nog with their families, but they”re out in the cold just celebrating the fact that we get to be pampered for one night. That’s awesome, and it means a whole lot to us too.”
They call it the Celebrate Jesus Event, which has been run by The Soup Mobile at the Hyatt for six years now. The Soup Mobile delivers 200,000 meals annually.
Ammons says the service is a big help to her. “We’re probably not starving, but at particular times of the month, food gets low.”
She also volunteers for the organization by helping seniors and the disabled who show up at the soup line. “That makes me feel good.”
Lon Ricker, the group’s development director says Celebrate Jesus embodies the true meaning of Christmas.
“They’re used to being shunned and almost brushed aside and we want them to know people care and people love them and we want to give them a magical Christmas that they’ll always remember.”
The Hyatt’s General Manager, Fred Euler says, “It’s a labor of love. Our associates at the hotel look forward to doing every year.”
Sharon Ammons lives in a neighborhood just south of Fair Park. While she is technically not homeless, she does appreciate the creature comforts of the hotel, at least for one night. “If a good wind comes through, it probably takes the house with it. But we call it home. I don’t live in a cardboard box, but I don’t live in the Hyatt Regency.”
As she slips off her sneakers, it doesn’t take long for Ammons to get comfortable in her hotel room. It’s her second year spending Christmas Eve here. “Oh the view is great, and it’s beautiful tonight.”
It’s a chance for reflection. “So then you look back and think about it through the year and then you start anticipating next year. I love it and I’ll be back next year.”