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Tulsa Salvation Army Dinner Opens Eyes, Hearts

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Serving the homeless a traditional Christmas dinner proved to be a heartwarming experience for volunteers young and old. Serving the homeless a traditional Christmas dinner proved to be a heartwarming experience for volunteers young and old.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Salvation Army in Tulsa threw open its doors this Christmas Eve, just as it does every year, for a traditional holiday meal.

It might be the only time some people truly see the faces of the homeless.

Big plates. Warm smiles. Served up by volunteers. Many of them kids who have their hands full and their eyes open.

One volunteer, Terry Benjamin, says serving the homeless provides many lessons, especially for kids.

"The best way to teach kids is to let them talk to people that are less fortunate than them. And then they'll see how blessed they really are."

Especially when they meet kids like Taylor.

Six-and-a-half-year-old Taylor Dotson moved into the homeless shelter with her dad, Michael Dotson, in April after he got hurt on the job.

Like many others in the shelter, he has no savings, nothing to fall back on.

"Most people, when you say you're at the Salvation Army, they say, 'Oh, you're homeless.' There's a stigma that goes with it. They expect you to be beside the bar or the highway peddling change to go get a drink," Michael Dotson said.

But, he said, he's seen more and more families move into the shelter. More with kids like Taylor who go to school every day, only to come home to a homeless shelter.

"She's accustomed to it," Michael said of his daughter. "But it's hard for kids. They don't understand why. It's hard to explain everything to them."

So, a simple gift of a good old traditional Christmas meal, with a spoonful of holiday cheer, was all Michael Dotson needed to see his daughter's eyes light up.

"We're thankful for everything we've got. Which is not much," he said. "It's still better than some others, and worse than some others, but were content with what we've got."

And what he's got is lots of love, and lots of perspective.

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