MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Instead of waking up Christmas morning and opening gifts, some families in New Jersey woke up Wednesday and opened their hearts to people in need.
And they did it under the guise of a lady affectionately called “Miss Soup Kitchen.”
Serving others is what the Sarson family set out to do this Christmas — and we’re talking the entire family.
“My sister-in-law, my niece, sister, her daughter, another niece, brother-in-law,” Denise Sarson said.
Matt Sarson works at Nourish NJ, formerly known as the Community Soup Kitchen, in Morristown.
“Just that feeling of being here and seeing guests and I’ve told them stories,” he told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
The Whitmores, who have come the last three years with their three kids, have many stories, too.
“You make a lot of friends and you want to come see how they’re doing,” says Noah.
“It’s a thin line that separates this side of table. It could be a snap that could separate us, so we’re all together,” says Krystine.
“I’m lucky to come today,” Jamie Whitmore said.
And even volunteers who aren’t related say they feel like they belong.
“When they walk in that door they’re family,” said dining room coordinator Betty Jones.
Jones, who is 75, has been up since 7 a.m. making food for the masses to go along with the meat donated from a local restaurant.
“Fresh veggies, mac and cheese, stuffing, mash potatoes, candy yams, macaroni and cheese. It’s a cheese dish pickle dish I give them soup to nuts I give them this day just for them,” she said. “We’re here trying to give our guests not just a good day but hope for the day.”
Those guests included Jermaine Edwards.
“I have no immediate family members right now,” he said. “I got Miss Betty so I come here.”
“They’ll come and say Ms. Betty I need a hug and love and toilet papers and tissues and soap and I say we gonna do all of this but let’s eat first,” Jones said.
Betty, who’s been dubbed “Miss Soup Kitchen,” says for nearly 30 years it’s been important to make a difference for this family even connecting clients to social services. She’ll see her kids and grand kids later.
“Kiss Merry Christmas that’s what I’m talking about.”
Nourish NJ is open every day at Church of the Redeemer for breakfast and lunch. The non-profit hasn’t missed a day of serving food in 35 years. For more information, see NourishNJ.org.