CEDAR RAPIDS — Several hundred people who took part Saturday in an annual free dinner sponsored by the HD Youth Center at Metro High School also had the opportunity to receive clothing, non-perishable items, toys and a visit with Santa.
“People need it,” said Henry Davison, 86, who started the HD Youth Center in the late ’90s. “They get to come in, eat, enjoy themselves and leave.”
Families who attended were able to give each child at least one book, one stuffed animal and another gift of their choice. Last year, the program served around 500 people.
“How many people do you see sleep under the bridge every day?” Davison said. “I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for them.”
Throughout the year, the center sponsors an Easter egg Hunt, a Back to School program, a Thanksgiving dinner and an Adventureland trip that Michael Lewis said gives kids the opportunity to get out of the city and have fun.
“This really brings the community together,” Lewis said of the center. “It’s a reminder that someone out there cares about you, even if just for a minute.”
HD Youth Center Christmas Coordinator Eric Hansen said the center has had some rough days, especially since the Flood of 2008. But Hansen said the center is hoping to open a new location on Mount Vernon Road in the next three months.
“Hoping,” Hansen reiterated. The center also is seeking more volunteers. Anyone interested can contact Henry Davison at (319) 329-8841.
Brittany Hermon, 26, said Saturday’s dinner was one of the biggest events of the year for her and her four kids. She said it was her second time attending the event, and that she enjoys seeing familiar faces.
“God got me through another Christmas once again,” she said with a smile, adding that she plans to come back again.