Early this morning, volunteers started streaming into Fair Park to prep for Central Market's Feast of Sharing, an annual event to help people in need. The grocery store has sponsored the Dallas version of this event for the the last five years. By 1 p.m., a line had formed both inside and out the building, and just before 2 people began filing into seats as food runners dropped off plates of turkey, stuffing and other trimmings, and soda, water and milk.
In under an hour, the 1,320 seats set up in the Centennial Building were nearly at capacity, and the sounds of a marching band an Gospel choir flowed from the main stage while the line out front continued to swell.
Alex Herrera helped keep the food coming. He arrived at Fair Park at 9 a.m. and helped cook in the massive food service truck parked just outside the building. Herrera is a truck driver for HEB, but he jumps at the chance to volunteer and help those in need. This summer, he parked the same truck in Bastrop and Magnolia, helping feed victims ravaged by this summer's wildfires.
Thousands of volunteers supplemented the HEB/Central Market employees. Hockaday and Saint Mark's sent 50 students each to help clean tables. Students from Duncanville High school worked a children's station with toys, face paints and crafts. United Way dispatched volunteers to help plate pies, and other companies and organizations chipped in as well.
Kathleen DeForest was on hand to help, too. Normally she works with Central Market in art development, but she too the day off to work as the Line Captain. DeForest coordinated with the food runners and platers, monitoring the rate at which food left the staging area. The result was a food-dispensing machine that was expected to feed more than 10,000 people today. While the event is scheduled to stop at 7 p.m., Deforest told me they work until everyone who has waited is fed.
While they waited, bands, choirs and other performers kept the hungry entertained, but while I was there I don't think I saw a single person wait more than a few minutes for food once they had been seated.
During a time of the year when most of us are debating whether we should stuff our heritage turkeys with oyster or sausage stuffing or both, it's refreshing to see so many people come together for the purpose of feeding those in greater need. Check out more pictures from Feast of Sharing below.