On Monday, July 22, Ventura Missionary Church members will be attending to their regular volunteer activities, except instead of serving the hungry ordinary hot meals at Catholic Charities in Ventura, volunteers and guests alike will be celebrating Christmas.

“When we do it around Christmas time, there is a lot of orgs doing special stuff, thinking about struggling people in Christmas,” said Kevin Barclay, a member of Ventura Missionary Church who is in charge of the event. “It seems like in the summer time, everyone is focused on themselves, ‘Where am I going to go?’ ‘What vacation am I going on?’ It’s cool to do something special when no one else is.”

Traditionally, there are roughly 20-30 organizations that volunteer their time, services and food one day a month to prepare and serve meals at Catholic Charities; Ventura Missionary Church is one of them. Dozens of people, from the unhoused to the simply hungry, will line up for hot meals five days a week, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at 303 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura. The meal service is part of the Family to Family nonprofit services for the impoverished and hungry. The Christmas in July celebration, however, is an undertaking of Ventura Missionary Church.

“One of the cool things about these meals, about half way through, volunteers will sit down with everyone” and enjoy a meal, Barclay said. He did note that in the past for special events, people will call to volunteer to serve food, but have “hung up” on him when he mentioned sitting with the guests to share a meal. For this special occasion, Barclay says that a holiday meal will be served, there will be gift bags, but the important part is community engagement with others eating there. And with enough time, volunteers can prepare for a bigger turnout, should the community RSVP.

“We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves,” Barclay said. “We don’t know exactly how many [homeless] there are, but how much does it really take to come together, to work together? If 10 percent do what we can, then we could have a huge impact. It starts with me and you and those around us, and that’s why I’m happy to be involved.”

“We have to be the ones who love more than they hate and remember who we are and do what we can to help,” said Barclay.

To RSVP and share a soul meal, email Fam2fam.vc@gmail.com
To learn more about Family to Family or to get involved, go to www.olaventura.com/Family-to-Family.