Community meals effort feeds 2,000


A dedicated group of volunteers gave up four hours of their Christmas Day on Saturday to help deliver 2,000 meals to those in need.

It was an annual effort that started 10 years ago when Shawn Malone and his wife, Jennifer, who own The Brooklyn Pizza Co., and Bubba’s Place owners Brian “Bubba” and Jessica D’Arco decided to serve a free hot meal on Christmas Day. That first year around 300 meals were served — a number that rose to 1,800 in 2020.

In the past, more than 60 volunteers cooked, packaged and delivered hot meals to people in Jackson and Jennings counties. The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that on Christmas Day in 2020 as boxed cold lunches were unloaded from a truck and placed into the vehicles of other volunteers for delivery.

The same process was used this year.

“Logistically it’s easier on us, but we also plan to get back to hot meals,” Shawn Malone said. “That’s kind of our goal.”

The box lunches contained a ham or turkey sandwich on a roll, pasta salad, chips, cookies, fruit and bottles of water and was prepared and provided by AVI Foodsystems in Seymour.

To purchase the meal, a fundraiser was started 30 days before Christmas and it paid off with $10,000, Shawn Malone said.

“We spend the money locally,” he said. “We were able to raise $10,000 with the help of a lot of local small businesses, church groups and others.”

Malone said there’s always been a core batch of volunteers who help with food preparations.

“And we just have a ton of volunteers to show up to help with delivery,” he said.

The goal was to have all 2,000 meals on their way by noon Christmas Day.

“That will happen,” he said shortly before the delivery process started at 9:30 a.m. Five years ago, Malone recalled him and his wife still delivering meals at 9 p.m. Christmas Day.

Zach Thompson of Seymour has aided in the effort to help those in need from the first year.

“It’s so great to spend Christmas doing something,” he said. “My family doesn’t do anything on Christmas so spending time with people doing something for Christmas is kind of important for me.”

Three years ago, Thompson recruited a friend, Shane Meek, also of Seymour, to help out.

Meek, who has continued to volunteer, said his reason for helping out is the same as Thompson’s.

“My family is from Bloomington so I don’t have anything to do on Christmas Day,” he said.

Robert Dillman of Seymour said he helped out a little during the early years of the Christmas meals program and decided to return this year to help out.

“I just like to see the smile on everybody’s faces,” he said.

For one 87-year-old North Vernon man, Saturday was the first time he decided to help out by delivering meals.

“It will be a real good experience,” Merrill Salyers said.

Salyers said Pete Burgmeier of Seymour persuaded him to help with deliveries.

Burgmeier said because his son was spending the morning with the other side of his family he had some time to help out.

“It’s something fun to do,” he said.

Will Coffman showed up with his wife and their son, Jacob Coffman, and his girlfriend, Gabby Genda, to volunteer their services for the cause because Malone’s a cousin of his.

“We want to help out the community,”Jacob Coffman said.

No posts to display