Ten-year-old Kai Goree was among the 80-plus volunteers who delivered barbecue dinners to police and firefighters on duty Christmas Day.
Kai has been part of Feed-A-Hero since the communitywide program launched three years ago. On Christmas morning, he put together hot chocolate cups before going with his mother, Charity Goree, to make a delivery to the Little Elm Police Department.
He likes spending Christmas Day this way, he said.
"You help out first responders by giving out food and all that to them for Christmas," Kai said.
Kai and his mother set out at about 10:30 a.m. with two boxes loaded with individual lunch kits. The kits were filled with homemade brisket, barbecue sauce, potato salad and coleslaw. The boxes also included a whole pie and homemade thank-you cards. When Kai and his mother arrived at the Little Elm Public Safety Center, the sergeant on duty was ready for them.
"Thank you so much; we really appreciate it," Sgt. Chris Nordman told Kai.
The officers asked Kai about his Christmas presents. He told them about the blow-up boxing gloves he got. The officers told Kai to pass them on when he and his brother get tired of playing with them, but Kai said he wasn't sure he would ever get tired of such a fun gift.
Denton resident Jim Searles started Feed-A-Hero after he took Christmas dinner to one of the Denton fire stations four years ago. The first year, he and other volunteers prepared 120 meals for first responders who were able to come to them at New Life Church. Last year, the group began delivering meals, too. They were able to prepare and serve about 450 meals, Searles said.
This year, they tripled that amount.
"We filled the bed of the pickup with brisket," Searles said.
A four-man crew rubbed down the meat and loaded it in the smoker Christmas Eve. They pulled it out at 6 a.m. Christmas morning. By noon, volunteers will have delivered and served more than 1,500 meals to first responders in Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties.
Next year, Searles hopes to triple that amount again and serve about 4,000 first responders. The fast-growing group has applied for nonprofit status, he said.
Charity Goree said she and the rest of her family enjoy volunteering on Christmas and they expected to spend the day making deliveries to police and firefighters near their home in Oak Point.
Other Christmas fun will continue when we got home, Kai said.
"We'll get home around 5 and play with our presents and watch shows." Kai said. "That's pretty much the rest of the day."
To learn more about Feed-A-Hero, visit the group's website, feedahero.org.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.
FEATURED PHOTO: Volunteers organize stacks of prepared lunches into boxes for delivery to first responders Monday at Valley Creek Church in Denton. Feed-A-Hero is an organization that honors first responders by serving and delivering meals to them on Christmas Day. Jake King/DRC