The spirit of helping, cooperation and, of course, Christmas was abundant in the Turner Street Center in Cedartown last week.

A group of people took the time and energy in the thick of the holiday season to provide a helping hand and a warm meal to anyone who needed it on Wednesday, Dec. 23, as the second annual Community Christmas Dinner was held.

Kelli Sullivan started the idea in 2019 of providing a free meal to those who spend Christmas without family or are in need of a meal and fellowship. The Rockmart resident went to her church family at Rivers of Living Water Global Empowerment Ministries in Rockmart and got the support of her pastors and its Anointed Network Team.

“God just put it on my heart to do it,” Sullivan said. “I came to Rockmart, never heard of Rockmart. So I came to Rockmart and I saw so many people that didn't have food to eat and that were homeless.”

Sullivan said she couldn’t have done it without Pastor Joy Fredrick and Rivers of Living Water.

“They came along and they support me 100%,” she said.

After holding the event in Rockmart the first year, Sullivan teamed up with Steven Collier of Cedartown this year and brought the meal to Cedartown.

“It was something I wanted to do and Pastor Joy told me about (Sullivan) so we linked up and did it together,” Collier said.

“He was actually interested in doing the same thing. So we kind of teamed up, and this is my new helper,” Sullivan said with a laugh.

Volunteers turned the Turner Street Center into a festive setting, complete with decorations and Christmas tunes playing and a dessert table filled with cakes, cookies and cupcakes.

Sullivan also organized a sock drive to collect new socks and take them to the Polk County Jail for anyone who needs them.

This year’s meal was served for carryout as organizers took precautions to combat COVID-19, including having volunteers wear face masks and gloves. Still, there was plenty to give thanks for as people arrived and were served by the volunteers.

“It's a blessing,” Sullivan said. “You know, my mom always told me to get a blessing you have to be a blessing. So that's basically what I'm doing. And it's not really for a blessing this is where my heart is.”

Sullivan said she doesn’t want to stop at the annual meal. She wants to do more and get a larger part of the community involved in helping those who are in need, whether it is homeless people or elderly without nearby family members.

“This is not a stopping point for me, and I don't think it is for him either,” Sullivan said. “We both have a heart to give back to the community.”

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