The line of cars snaked all throughout the Dixie Drive-In parking lot Wednesday as With God’s Grace, a Dayton charity that fights food insecurity and unemployment, hosted its annual Christmas dinner giveaway.
The organization was prepared to provide for more than 2,000 families during the two-hour event, as hunger issues can be heightened during the winter holiday season, according to With God’s Grace’s Executive Director Nicole Adkins.
“We found a lot of families are struggling to be able to put a Christmas dinner on the table,” Adkins said. “So we want them to be able to have a Christmas dinner to share with their families, and to have something that they could have special with their families.”
East Dayton resident Alvin Aldridge was driving one of the many cars lined up to receive food at the event. For him, Wednesday’s giveaway went a long way toward making life easier around the holidays.
“Food goes far, to a certain extent, and it just increases the ability for the cooks to make more stuff for more people and fills up stomachs and that’s a great, great thing,” Aldridge said. “It makes people happy and blessed.”
The gift of free food can help minimize stress in other important areas, Aldridge said.
“You’re not looking for anything, because it’s already there,” he said. “It takes the burden off if you’re economically depressed or you’re going through hard times. It just makes it so much better.”
With God’s Grace partnered with multiple local organizations to help put the event together, including Hall Hunger and the Levin Foundation. The Levin family constructed the Dixie Drive-In in 1958, and it has remained in their family for generations. Levin Foundation Executive Director Karen Levin noted how proud the foundation was to be hosting the giveaway at their venue.
“We felt that we really needed to help the people living in this community; many of them have been customers of ours for years,” she said. “And now it’s time to give back to this community. We want to see people have a happy holiday. We can’t give out massive amounts of money or anything, but we can make sure at least they have a meal.”
Food insecurity has hit the Dayton region harder after the 2019 tornadoes and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer and Oakwood resident Sarah Teske said events like these are crucial in helping the Dayton community continue to heal.
“I think in a time where we struggled so much, it’s beautiful to see people give other people grace, give themselves grace and give the world grace,” she said.
Wednesday’s giveaway featured dozens of volunteers giving their time and effort to help load food into the cars of families in need. The dedication of so many Dayton residents is indicative of an overarching sense of community within the region, Aldridge said.
“I mean, there are a lot of pantries and a lot of volunteers,” he said. “And when you see that all the time, it just shows how unselfish (the volunteers) are and how hard they work to make things a success.”
Levin said volunteers working together to serve the community is a great way for people to grow closer together and set aside their differences, Levin added.
“There’s no mention of politics, no mention of race or color, creed, nothing,” she said. “It’s everybody coming together no matter what to help their fellow man.”
Kettering resident Dan Acuff has been volunteering for With God’s Grace for over three years, and he’s worked numerous charity events and giveaways. However, even he had to admit that Wednesday’s event was something special.
“Usually, we don’t have this kind of turnout for volunteers,” Acuff said. “But this is awesome, seeing this. We’ve got a lot of people from all over. It’s really cool to see this.”
The spirit of volunteerism and service, Acuff added, encapsulates what it means to be a member of the Dayton community.
“Well, if you can’t do something to make somebody’s life better, what good are you?” he asked.