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Feast of Sharing Serves Hundreds of Thousands Throughout Texas and Mexico

Boerne High School student Joseph Bonnin walks from table to table, trying to talk above the loud conversations and the Luis Portilla Orchestra playing Christmas tunes on stage. The 16 year old has a tray full of apple pies.

"It's the right thing to do," he says of his volunteerism. "Why not? It's great. I'm having fun here."

Bonnin is among hundreds of volunteers giving their time during the 20th annual Feast of Sharing event, put on by HEB. Thousands of people celebrated the holiday together at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Saturday. The dinner is one of 32 HEB will put on between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays that serves more than 250,000 people.

Getting all the volunteers, food, equipment and people in place is no small feat.

"This actually takes anywhere from six months to a year, depending on if we're starting a new dinner somewhere in the state,” said HEB spokesperson Danny Flores. “With our partners here and United Way, our vendors, it seems to go without hiccups."

HEB's Danny Flores sees each and every dinner throughout the state and the six dinners served in Mexico.

Lacey Kotzur with HEB says it's a way to say thanks and give people a way to come together.

"Glazed ham, mashed potatoes, vegetable medley, and great apple pie,” said Kotzur of what people will enjoy when they come to the dinner.

19 year volunteer Donna Skloss has done everything from serve the food to register volunteers.

"Some of the older people, they get dressed up, suits and all their fancy clothes, and this is the only Christmas celebration they have,” she said. “Maybe they don't have family nearby or whatever their situation is."

This year, Skloss missed an important family get-together to volunteer.

"My family went to Houston, my husband and daughter went to Houston this weekend to be with some of our best friends in the world,” she said. “And when they called to ask us if wanted to go, I said my husband and daughter will be there, but I will not be there. This HEB Feast of Sharing is my thing. It's my absolute once a year I have to do this."

At this time of year, Skloss says to think positive thoughts, even with such heartache all around.

"Cause there are still millions of good people out there,” Skloss said. And there's proof of that right here in San Antonio.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.