What began as a small operation in one man's kitchen has become a holiday tradition in Highlandtown, where more than 100 volunteers will spend part of Christmas Day delivering food and gifts to people who are housebound with HIV and AIDS.
The volunteers, whose numbers have doubled over the past four years, will work for the nonprofit Moveable Feast, the Maryland Community Kitchen program for housebound AIDS patients and their families. The group will visit 148 clients' homes, serving warm meals and delivering presents to children younger than 16.
"Everybody we feed is homebound with HIV/AIDS, and we think there ought to be a special day for them," said Vic Basile, executive director of Moveable Feast. "Fortunately, we get lots of people, particularly from the Jewish community, who like to come in and volunteer on that day."
Moveable Feast was founded in 1989 when a group of friends got together to cook meals for housebound AIDS patients and their families. Some of the friends later died of complications from AIDS, but their tradition lives on. Volunteers now work out of the kitchen of the former Haussner's restaurant, delivering frozen meals and groceries every day of the year to clients in the city and surrounding counties, as well as to the nine counties on the Eastern Shore.
On Christmas, volunteers will bring families a warm meal of turkey, stuffing, yams and green beans. Many families will receive donated gifts, such as microwave ovens.
The volunteers say they get something out of it, too.
"It's really brought back Christmas to me, the true meaning of Christmas, helping people on a day when most people are with their families," said Tom Patrick, the organization's volunteer manager. "Over the years, we're sometimes the only person that comes to see that person. It really means a lot to me."
Volunteers will begin preparing food at 9:30 a.m. Christmas Day. A light breakfast and orientation for volunteers will begin at 10 a.m., and at 10:30 a.m. they will begin visiting homes.
Those interested in volunteering should contact Patrick at 410-327-3420 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.