Homeless, hungry get a free meal thanks to The Gathering

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Hundreds of people gathered at St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Milwaukee Saturday, December 21st for a popular meal event known as The Gathering.

The Gathering provides a free meal, as well as clothes and toiletries, to those in the community who are homeless or underprivileged.

"You eat together with other people, you break isolation, you make relationships and friends, and you start figuring out how you can work with the rest of your life," said Virginia Schrag, Executive Director of The Gathering.

Dozens of volunteers participate in the effort, organizing the event and making mounds of food.

"The work that we do is fun. I mean, we all get to work and throw things around and I get to meet amazing people," said volunteer Lisa Murray.

St. James Episcopal Pastor Drew Bunting says this version of The Gathering treats guests to more than just a meal and a sing-along.

"The spirit of Christmas doesn't have to do, obviously, with gifts and trees and lights and all that stuff. It's about being a community. It's about recognizing the presence of God among us," said Pastor Bunting.

Guests were also able to shop at the Red Door Clothes Room, which operates through donations at St. James and Trinity Episcopal Church.

"It's very important, you know, especially when you have children and they're going to school and they're steady growing. It's very important when you don't have the ends to meet," said Monique Dixon.

Those attending the meal received up to two take-home bags providing them with food for the next couple days, as well.