While COVID-19 forced many people to scale back their holiday traditions, many others experienced an increased need for food and other basic necessities.

Recognizing the great need, Sister Deborah Mann, executive director of the Emmanuel Family and Child Development Center in Kansas City, determined to continue their tradition of service despite the restrictions implemented during the pandemic. 

Volunteers from various Kansas City community organizations, the Beacon Light Adventist Church members, and other volunteers unite together in this effort every year that impacts hundreds of families in the community. 

Previously called Miracle on 35th Street, this year’s event was titled Miracle on 47th because organizers had to change the venue due to city gathering restrictions.

Mann and a team of volunteers gave out free hot meals on Friday afternoon to nearly 300 people during the Miracle on 47th event.

Mann knew that  people in their community were going through a lot and she believed this was the best way to offer support.

Participants could drive or walk up and receive hot meals, a large bag of groceries, hygiene products, clothes and gifts for kids. Drivers could request multiples of supplies if they were delivering to other families.

Vincent Jones, minister of music for the Beacon Light Church, oversees the music that provides wholesome Christian entertainment for the event. Members of the church’s praise team and musicians sing and play, creating a joyful atmosphere. 

“Sister Mann sometimes says that on Christmas Day this meal may be the best meal many have had all year. Many in the homeless community also come by and are blessed not only with food but scarves, shoes and gloves,” said Pastor Cryston Josiah, vice president for administration of the Central States Conference.

In a year full of changes, those in need have said it’s a blessing to count on people who never had a change of heart. Several expressed their appreciation at being able to “have a Christmas after all.”

“Elder and Sister Mann have a passion for the people in their community that is real and powerful,” aded Josiah. “They are literally the hands and feet of Jesus, providing for the needs of the least of these willingly and without earthly reward. But I certainly believe that great will be their reward in heaven. As someone who served as their pastor for almost seven years, I must admit that I have always been quite proud of their love for people that takes action, not only at Christmas but all year around. I believe that this ministry can serve as an inspiration for other community service ministries all around the Mid-America Union.”