The Feed a Hero initiative is moving into its fifth year and has become a North Texas Christmas tradition of generosity and love.
A group of volunteers will hand deliver 4,500 Christmas meals to first responders in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Parker, Wise and Cook counties.
“So, imagine taking time away from your family on Christmas morning and being glad to do that and we assemble the meals,” Feed a Hero founder Jim Searles said.
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The massive mission is a labor of love which takes the help of dozens of volunteers and donations from across the region.
“There is about two and a half tons of brisket, about 1,200 pounds of potato salad, somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 gallons of beans and 4,500 hamburger buns,” Searles explained.
The preparations start on Christmas Eve and the work continues until the last meal is delivered to police and fire stations throughout North Texas.
“I have a passion for it. I’m a former first responder, so I get it,” Searles said. “I’ve eaten my fair share of 7Eleven hot dogs on Christmas Day because they were the only thing that was open. Our heroes deserve better than this.”
Though Searles has an understanding for the magnitude of the gift, he said volunteers found out firsthand last year when delivering to a Department of Public Safety trooper who was transporting a prisoner on Christmas Day.
“He said, ‘I’ll be honest with you. I brought an MRE to eat in my car.’ Let that sink in,” Searles said tearfully. “To me, for one of our heroes to sit in his car and eat out of a pouch in the United States of America. It can’t happen on my watch.”
Not only are the first responders touched by the kindness, the volunteers often walk away with a deeper understanding of true gratitude.
“Our volunteers come back year and year and say ‘we thought we knew what true gratitude was, until we saw that,” Searles said.
The group hopes to serve 7,000 first responders next Christmas.
Feed a Hero still needs volunteers will to deliver meals in their vehicles to get all the food to the stations in a timely manner.
ONLINE: You can find out how to help by visiting FeedAHero.org.