The Brothers of Omega Psi Phi, Delta Kappa Kappa Chapter of Hot Springs, continued their tradition of cooking and serving a Christmas meal for those in need on Saturday, but this year they focused their efforts on the youths housed at Ouachita Children, Youth and Family Services.
The holiday meal traditionally has been served at the Webb Community Center, but Tony Hines, Basileus of the chapter, said they changed venues this year due to the size of the event.
"Normally we'll do this at the Webb Center, but it's kind of outgrown our capacity, so we decided to come over, with the blessings of the CEO Mr. Williams, come over to Ouachita Children's Center and donate our time and services here," Hines said.
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"The idea came along, I want to say about eight-nine years ago from the passed Brother Bobby Freeman, and his idea was to feed the needy during the holiday. So what we and my chapter are trying to do, and what we will do, is continue his legacy and find a group every holiday to feed, particularly kids," Hines said.
Hines said the children needed a good Christmas meal "because they're away from home."
"Nobody other than the staff and the school; you know they have no family. Nobody checks on them. They are a part of our community, they're a part of our school district, so they may as well be a part of our family," Hines said.
"We just want to provide them with an opportunity 'Hey man, there's going to be a chance for you, we got you,'" he said.
"This is what Christmas is about. To do for those who need help, to help those who are less fortunate. These students here maybe would not have this kind of meal if we weren't here to provide it for them," said Steven Reaves, vice Basileus of the chapter.
"This is the work that Omega Psi Phi does, is when we take our oath, this is what we do. It's a lifetime decision, and this is what we do -- help those in our community who need help," Reaves said.
Also helping out was Marcus Tatum, who is both an employee of OCC and a member of the Omega Psi Phi chapter.
Tatum said the efforts to help the children were "absolutely" important "because as somebody, an employee who actually works here, I know the needs that the youth have, so I just appreciate the chapter coming and it's just awesome."
"It's kind of like the other brothers said, it's service, it's what we do," Tatum said. "I'm just delighted that this organization was chosen because a lot of times during the holidays, youth get overlooked, and so everyone's enjoying their own family but also our youth, they don't have a lot of options to go to to celebrate the holidays, so for the fraternity to give back like this is awesome."
The meal included ham, turkey, chicken, dressing, green beans, and macaroni and cheese. Hines said they cooked enough food to feed around 50 people, noting the meal would be spread out.
"We've still got some COVID restrictions, so we're just trying to keep it at a minimum," he said.
Tatum said he thinks the kids will remember having this meal.
"I think it's something that they'll be able to keep for the rest of their lives. Just to be able to have someone to take their time out and go 'Hey we want to enjoy this meal, we want to serve you guys.' This is something they can remember for the rest of their lives," Tatum said.
Hines said he hopes to continue the annual tradition in the future.
"We want to try to continue this event. This is not our first annual, but it's the first time that we've done it away from the Webb Center. We want to, if we can, rotate. Maybe have the kids come over to our spot next time, but we want to continue to give to our community, to serve our community," he said.