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Event organizers hold a raffle as part of the festivities at Saturday’s Christmas to Remember.

Seventh annual Dream Center event serves more than 400

Cars lined the side of the streets and people packed the parking lot as the Russellville Dream Center hosted its seventh annual Christmas to Remember.

More han 400 people packed the area to receive boxes of food and clothes, with more than 10,000 pounds of food being distributed throughout the day.

“It’s a hard thing to describe this, to see this many people and you think ‘Wow, are there even this many people in town?’” said Russellville Dream Center marketing and donations coordinator Jaci Hogeland.

When people arrived, they received a ticket to get a box of food. Food was distributed to 20 families at a time, with each family getting one of each food item in their box and every family receiving a box.

Hogeland said despite the event beginning at 11 a.m., some people began waiting at 8 a.m. to ensure they would be one of the first families to receive a box of food.

Once the family’s box was full, a runner from the Dream Center took the box to their vehicle and helped them load everything.

Director of the Russellville Dream Center Work Program Frank Star said it is amazing to see so many people come out to the event each year.

“It’s a blessing to be a part of this,” Star said. “About five years ago, people helped me and I didn’t understand why. Now I do, so being a part of giving back really means a lot.”

Hogeland said giving back is what the Dream Center is all about.

“If it wasn’t for the community, we couldn’t keep doing this and giving back,” Hogeland said.

The Russellville Dream Center serves members of Franklin County and surrounding counties in need of help. The Dream Center is funded by donations from the community, and Hogeland said this event is one of the Dream Center’s biggest fundraisers every year.

In addition to the food and clothing giveaway, the event also boasted a raffle, with all of the money raised going back into the Dream Center.

There were 197 tickets sold at $20 a piece for the chance to win a variety of prizes, ranging from a signed Alabama football to a new television or $500 cash.

While waiting for boxes of food to be handed out, those in attendance enjoyed lunch, with the Coalition for the Homeless bringing 40 gallons of chicken stew to be distributed and the Dream Center cooking hot dogs.

The event also distributed toys to children. Each child received a wristband to go choose a toy before getting the chance to have his or her picture made with Santa Claus and the Grinch.

“It makes you smile, seeing the kids out here playing with the new toys and watching them see Santa,” Hogeland said.