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Bethlehem Center in Visalia gives to those in need

At the Bethlehem Center in Visalia a long line of people waited to be served a warm Christmas meal.
December 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
At the Bethlehem Center in Visalia a long line of people waited to be served a warm Christmas meal. Inside the center volunteers were busy preparing ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and other fixings for the meal.

As the doors opened many were greeted with a holiday welcome. Inside many shared with Actions News what they are thankful for this holiday season.

"Having family and having something to feed ourselves. And I'm thankful, thank you," Rudy Cocio from Visalia said.

"My life that god has allowed me to have another day of life," Theodora Anita Palos from Visalia said.

For nearly 30 years the Bethlehem Center, which has taken on different names throughout the years, has been serving Christmas Day meals to those who may need it most. Wednesday they served food to nearly 200 people.

"There's still some people out there that are losing their jobs losing their homes," said Benny Rodriguez with the Bethlehem Center.

More than 25 volunteers at the Bethlehem Center lent a helping hand, some even children volunteered.

"I come out here and volunteer because it just feels right," volunteer Amadeo Ramirez said.

Amadeo Ramirez, 14, volunteers at the Bethlehem center every week and made sure to give his time, along with his brother and cousin on Christmas Day.

"I was helping serve and went to go help wash dishes," Ramirez said.

But many on Christmas were given more than just a hot meal Costco donated Christmas trees, free for people to take home.

The Bethlehem center gave more than fifty children a Christmas toy. Some had no problem showing them off. And while many call the holidays the season of giving Bethlehem Center Director Benny Rodriguez said it is the smiles on people's faces that make his heart feel full of love.

"I look forward to it every day. I worked in the retail industry for 35 years before retiring and then came to work here and wow I wish I had done this for the last 35 years because it's really rewarding. Yes, I feel very blessed doing this job," Rodriguez said.


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