NEW ORLEANS -- The spirit of giving is alive and well in the Lower Garden District.
The substance abuse treatment facility Bridge House hosted its 25 annual Christmas dinner. About 500 participants lined up early for a seat at the table.
"Turkey, stuffing, candy yams, corn, potatoes, cream peas and dirty rice, it's all good said Alphose Derbigny. "All good, yeah."
"Man, this means a lot," said Montaque Cooper. "People leaving their kids home, coming here, feeding us, it's very good."
Volunteers came from far and wide. Donna Duff is visiting from Alberta, Canada.
"That's what Christmas is all about," said Duff. "If we only treated people the way we wanted to be treated, the world would be such a better place."
Bridge House also gave toiletries and clothes to people in need.
"There are many in our community who are still suffering, living on the street, few resources and we as a community just need to continue to reach and and support those individuals," said Bridge House coordinator Else Pedersen.
Bridge House clients say events like this are an important part of their recovery.
"I was a person that walked over to Bridge House without anything," said Eric Lowe. "I lost my business, my house, my job, my wife, everything. I didn't have any will power or any drive. They I came back here and slowly but surely with work therapy and group AA meetings, they are able to bring you back into the scope of your life."
Clients, participants and volunteers say the event is a wonderful gift, in keeping with the true spirit of the holiday.
"Happy to get it together and everybody here is just great, getting along good," said client Melody Baptiste. "The program has just really blessed me."
"It's just as much for us as it for them," said Duff. "We get the wonderful, wonderful feelings."