DALLAS (CBS11) – At Dallas’ SoupMobile headquarters, “crunch time” has taken on new meaning.
The months of preparation have dwindled to just days. And on Christmas Eve, 500 homeless men, women and children will get warm baths, clean beds, new clothes, a red carpet banquet, and a night at the Omni Hotel. Really.
“When I tell people about the event, that’s exactly their response: are you kidding me? Are you serious? This can’t be real,” says Arian Danian. Danian is the volunteer who for the past six years has managed all of the planning for the “Celebrate Jesus” event. But, SoupMobile founder David “SoupMan” Timothy puts it this way: “people thought we were flat out, nuts!”
Now, thirteen years later, Timothy says the annual event has proven that kindness is transformative.
“When they see that 2,500 volunteers are giving up their Christmas, when they see the mayor coming… Mayor Mike Rawlings, when they see Tamela Mann coming to sing for them, they know that people care and that gives them hope,” says Timothy.
In fact, they say, among the 2,500 volunteers who work to pull off the massive event, there are always former homeless who were once guests. Meanwhile, the opportunity to serve has volunteers also eager for the event.
“We close off the volunteer spots,” says Danian with a laugh. “We have to, because there’s too many people.”
If kindness is transformative, then compassion must be addictive. Danian started volunteering at the SoupMobile while home on break as a college student. Now, like so many others, he says he wouldn’t be anywhere else Christmas Eve.
“You’re on the red carpet,” recalls Danian of the over-the-top welcome planned for their homeless guests. “You see how happy everyone is. It’s hard to put into words. It’ll keep you coming back.”
The event kicks off on Christmas Eve morning at the Dallas Omni Hotel. Organizers say there are still a very few volunteer spots available. Click here for more information.
“I’ve seen it firsthand,” says Danian. “They’ve said ‘seeing the kindness that people have shown me, helped me… helped me make myself better, helped me get out of the situation I was in.”