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Annual Red Andrews Christmas Dinner Feeds Thousands Of Oklahomans

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This year, thousands of people, young and old, showed up for a hot meal, toys and a photo with Santa Claus at the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner. This year, thousands of people, young and old, showed up for a hot meal, toys and a photo with Santa Claus at the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The Christmas tradition goes on after another successful Red Andrews Christmas Dinner.

This year, thousands of people, young and old, showed up for a hot meal, toys and a photo with Santa Claus. Nearly 1,000 volunteers were on hand to make it a big success.

Among the hundreds of volunteers scooping potatoes, spraying whipped cream and serving drinks is a man names Jim Jones. He has been familiar with the impact this dinner has on Oklahoma City families since the 1950s.

You see, Jones used to come to the Red Andrews Dinner as a kid.

"I first started coming as one of the little kids coming through the line. My mom was a single mom and we didn't have any money," Jones recalled. "When I first started coming, I was probably seven or eight and I didn't know we were poor, I just thought we were special because of all the kids in Oklahoma City, us boys and girls were here to get presents and a meal. I thought we'd been picked out. And it was a few years later that I figured out we didn't have two nickels to rub together."

Now, more than 50 years later, Jones is on the other side of the table. He has been volunteering for 10 years and every year the smiles on the kids' faces take him back to the days when he was in their position.

Those memories are all he needs to understand how important the work of the volunteers at the dinner is.

"It was Christmas and if it weren't for the kindness of strangers we wouldn't have had a Christmas. And that's what this brings to me and I love the look on these little kids' faces as they come through."

Next to Jones was Jordan Keast. The 10 year old was a first-time volunteer who decided to shake up Christmas this year.

"I see their smile, I hear their thank you and it's just the same as getting a gift for Christmas day," Keast said.

A kind gesture that Jones says makes an impact more than Keast even understands.

"This is a very special event for them and I love that it's been preserved and will be long after I'm gone because there's people out there that need this kind of special attention and treatment," explained Jones.

After dinner, all the children were able to pick out toys and get a photo with Santa. Plus, a tradition came back this year: bikes were given out, just like Jones remembers.

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