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Chattanooga non-profit embraces "season of giving," donates meals to homeless individuals

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On Wednesday afternoon, the Union Gospel Mission kept a 70-year tradition alive by donating Christmas meals to homeless individuals in Chattanooga (Image: WTVC).{ }

The Union Gospel Mission knew this year's "season of giving" would look different.

But they didn't let that stop them from making a difference.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Chattanooga non-profit made sure members of the homeless community received a proper Christmas dinner. Volunteers handed out meals in front of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center on MLK Boulevard.

The group said they'd deliver 400 ham and turkey dinners to homeless individuals.

The Union Gospel Mission has been donating Christmas meals for 70 years, and their Wednesday event kept that tradition of generosity alive.

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The group's director, Jon Rector, anticipated a challenging year for donations, between the pandemic and the struggling economy.

But many helping hands still stepped up to keep the tradition alive.

"A lot of volunteers, a lot of prayer, community support... we have everybody from local businesses to churches, to families, to pitch in and donate," said Rector.

In addition to donating meals, the group also handed out "blessing bags," which included gloves, hats, and other items to make the winter a little bit easier for Chattanooga's homeless population.

Rector said the event means the world to The Union Gospel Mission.

"It's how we celebrate Christmas. Some of our volunteers have been doing this 17 years. Some of our guests we see three times a year."

The Union Gospel Mission also provides free meals to Chattanooga's homeless community on Thanksgiving and Easter.

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