Ashli Sims, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- In the spirit of holiday giving, Tulsa's city leaders gathered together to give back Tuesday night.
The mayor and the city council have had a rocky year. But Tuesday night, they presented a united front to help those less fortunate.
A cornucopia of city leaders donned aprons and serving spoons.
"I haven't thrown any food yet," said Tulsa City Councilor Maria Barnes.
They put aside city squabbles to talk turkey, Thanksgiving Turkey.
"If they feed us we'd be quiet," Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen said, laughing.
And instead of red tape holding up this city business, it was only an empty pan, or an empty plate waiting to be filled.
"This is a good example of what we can do to show the community that we are really part of one Tulsa," Mayor Dewey Bartlett said. "This is one Tulsa. And we are here working for our fellow citizens."
But the sad fact is Tulsa's horn of plenty is running empty, as more Tulsans are in need. John 3:16 says demand is up almost 30 percent over last year.
"It's been a massive increase for us," Reverend Steve Whitaker said. "And we've struggled all year long, not only because giving is down somewhat at this point in time, but because there are more people than we ever anticipated seeing this time of year."
Reverend Whitaker says this is about more than just dishing up a plate of food.
"The truth of the matter is it's a statement of our faith in them and our hope that they will continue to push our city in the right direction," he said. "That they will form a line of solidarity, as they have tonight [Tuesday], to serve people."
As the city councilors and mayor worked side by side and hand and hand to serve this Thanksgiving feast, they also saw eye to eye on how they can try to make these meals unnecessary.
"Well we're doing everything we can, within our power, to encourage the private sector to create jobs, create job opportunities," Bartlett said.
"I think it's important that we concentrate on small businesses. Because small businesses, in a lot of cases, are the people who hire unskilled laborers and the people who really need a job," Christiansen said.
John 3:16 expects to serve about 40,000 meals this holiday season. Many of them will go to the "new poor," or people who've never needed help before this year.