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Crossroads Christmas event makes 7th annual return

Living Free Ministries Founder Tommy Wilson, Crossroads Christmas founder Marea Wilson, Alcorn Central High School Principal Brandon Quinn and Alcorn County Sheriff Ben Caldwell discuss plans for the seventh annual Crossroads Christmas set for Christmas Day.

Staff photo by Zack Steen Daily Corinthian

Tommy and Marea Wilson will spend Christmas Day helping thousands.

The husband and wife team will again spearhead the seventh annual Crossroads Christmas "" a free community dinner held in the cafeteria at Alcorn Central High School.

"It's about filling a need in the community," said Marea, who came up with the idea following the passing of her mother. "I wanted our family to do something on Christmas Day to give back, and honor my mother's memory."

Presented each year by Living Free Ministries, Crossroads Christmas is slated for Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It isn't just for those who are needy or hungry. Everyone is welcome to come enjoy the food and fellowship which includes a hot, home cooked traditional Christmas Day meal.

Those attending will also be able to catch the continuous showing of the holiday movie classic, "It's A Wonderful Life." Christmas stockings will be given to the first 100 children, the clothes closet will be open for those needing something warm and arts and crafts will be available for the young and young at heart.

"Crossroads Christmas is for everyone from all walks of life, no matter race or age or how much money they make," added Marea. "It's Christmas Day, and no one needs to be alone on Christmas Day."

Tommy said the event would not happen without the many blessings from the community. Like his longtime kitchen mastermind Larry Betts, who has already began cooking dressing for the big day.

ACHS Principal Brandon Quinn is also an important piece of the puzzle.

"This is our third year Brandon has invited us to have it at the school, and it's huge," said Tommy. "The amount of space we have there and the commercial kitchen are huge benefits."

Then there's the many, many volunteers "" most who enjoy a meal before going to work.

"Folks can come help with serving or cutting pies or visiting pretty much anytime of the day," Tommy added.

The most volunteer help will be needed Christmas morning at the gym.

"Getting all the to-go meals ready in time is always tough," he said.

More than 500 prisoners and staff members at the Alcorn County Regional Correction Facility will be fed as part of Crossroads Christmas.

"Folks can't get enough Jesus and kindness in that jail," said Alcorn County Sheriff Ben Caldwell. "There are good people in there, but there are also people who don't know what it's like to have someone show them love."

Marea said the plan is to personally hand each prisoner a meal and wish them a Merry Christmas.

"Our kindness might be the one thing that can help change their life," she said.

While volunteer help is important, extra food is the greatest need.

Many individuals and businesses in the community have already donated turkeys, an item event organizers said ran low last year. The Wilson's said ham is presently their number one need, along with sides and desserts.

"We need any kind of food to go with a traditional Christmas meal," said Marea. "We will accept just about anything, but prefer normal holiday dishes."

The most needed home cooked items include devil eggs, corn, green beans, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and desserts.

Food can be brought to the Living Free Ministries facility, located behind Magnolia Funeral Home on Highway 72 East, ahead of time or brought directly to the ACHS cafeteria on Christmas Day. Volunteer helpers will be curbside in front of the school gym to help with unloading beginning at 7 a.m. on Dec. 25.

The Alcorn School District will donate the use of the school and equipment, as well as all plastic ware, plates and to-go containers.

Quinn said Alcorn Central will also donate drinks for the event.

"Our students and staff have been kind to help with the cost of supplying drinks, but we will still need help from the community "" if anyone would like to donate drinks, please drop them by the school," added Quinn.

The school's clothes closet will also be open to those in need during the Christmas Day event.

"While we have a lot of high school age kids clothing, we could use more children's size clothing," said the principal.

Monetary donations are also welcome.

"We will make good use of all donations provided prior to the dinner and on Christmas Day," added Tommy.

(Online donations can be made at livingfreecorinth.com. For more Crossroads Christmas information, contact Marea Wilson at 662-643-7298 or e-mail marea@jumperrealty.com.)