Nashon Moment leaned against the wall outside of Newgate Mission in Longview with his dog, Buddha.
Buddha hopped up, appearing to hug and lean against Moment as the Rev. David Lee of First United Methodist Church read scripture from the book of Luke telling of Jesus’ birth.
Lee then prayed over Thursday morning’s Christmas Eve breakfast.
“It’s a blessing and it’s a joy to come out to help people who need it and interact with folks and to share the story of Jesus with those who may not get to hear it,” he said.
Newgate Mission modified its Christmas Eve breakfast to an outside take-out style meal with gifts because of COVID-19 restrictions, said Newgate Mission Manager Demetria Anderson.
“Normally it would be inside and we would have a Nativity scene,” she said.
This year, instead of giving out blankets, socks and hats on Christmas Day, Newgate distributed items each Wednesday in December with a blanket one week and socks and other items another day to lead up to the gift bag distribution on Christmas Eve.
Gift bags handed out Thursday included a McDonald’s gift card, a bus pass, snacks and either a pair of socks or a hat.
But the change did not hinder getting hot meals to community members in need.
“It feels good,” Moment, 40, said of getting a hot meal. “I’m homeless and I sleep outside.”
He pat Buddha, his service dog, on the head before the dog hopped up again.
“Sometime’s Buddha got too much energy,” Moment said, chuckling.
The breakfast consisted of sausage, waffles, oatmeal and orange juice or milk. Anderson said she expected to serve at least 100 people.
Volunteer Sylvia Hawkins of Gilmer helped fill the containers with food in the kitchen area in a type of assembly line with volunteers Billy Jack Williams and Michael Liberman.
“I just like giving back,” Hawkins said.
“I love it,” Liberman said, putting syrup cups into the containers.
Newgate Mission interim Executive Director Kristi Bogle-Sherman and her two children helped distribute candy to those in line.
George Sherman, 7, dressed as an elf, handed out candy canes while his sister, Isabelle, 3, handed out smaller peppermint candies.
“I feel like we’re all in this together, so this is the least we can do,” Bogle-Sherman said. “We really enjoy it. We love being here. George has been coming to Newgate for years. He’s kind of a veteran.”