Shepherds Feast community gathering Christmas Day

Published 4:43 pm Monday, December 14, 2009

For the past several years in Polk County theres been a well-kept secret on where to find a meal and companionship of friends and neighbors on Christmas Day.

The Shepherds Feast, which is now held at Polk Middle School, is a collaboration of local businesses and individual volunteers gathering together in the most basic and essential spirit of the holidays.

The event is the brainchild of a single individual, Ross Fox, who wanted to create a community event so no one would have to be alone or be hungry on Christmas day. Fox says, The Shepherds Feast has grown to be a joyous celebration of delicious, wholesome food, holiday music and gifts with people from all walks of life coming together as both volunteer and recipient in order to share this magical day together. There is no charge for this event thanks to the donations of many individuals and local businesses.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Five years ago, Fox volunteered at just such an event in Hendersonville, and set his mind to creating what has now become known as the Shepherds Feast in Polk County. The Feast volunteers not only create a full sit-down dinner, complete with white tablecloths, china and silverware, to feed over 300 individuals in the school dining room, but also prepare and send out another 100 meals to folks around the county who are unable to get out and about.

They work in collaboration with social service agencies around the county, and everything that is leftover is immediately sent to the Outreach Ministries Food Bank for distribution. In addition to a meal prepared by local chefs and a dessert table, there is holiday music, gifts from Santa for the kids, games to play and many people to talk with.

Its just a wonderful way to spend Christmas day, says Mary Lyth of Giardini Trattoria who oversees the food preparation. So many different businesses and individuals come together in love and sharing to make this all happen.

Shane Blackwell of Mountain View BBQ spends a whole day ahead of time slow roasting all the turkeys. Debbie Thomas of Wildflour Bakery in Saluda bakes a lot of extra loaves of their bread and rolls. Toshs Whistlestop bakes pies and the IGA donates needed food items.

Volunteers are still needed for gathering items, prepping and working in the kitchen, serving, washing dishes, as well as musicians. Donations of both cash and food are still being sought throughout the county.

You can join by donating, by volunteering or by participating. The Shepherds Feast takes place on Christmas Day from 1 to 4 p.m. at Polk Middle School (take Hwy. 108 E. toward Mill Spring and turn left on Wolverine just past Houston Rd). For volunteering and donations, please contact Ross Fox at 828-859-9979.