Champaign church gives back on Christmas Day

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) - For the 10th year, more than 300 people celebrated Christmas at a local church.

The First Christian Church has become a familiar place for many who don't have a place to spend during the holidays. Lynne Barns, who came up with the idea, began hosting the Christmas dinner for almost 11 years. Barnes said she read an article in Ridge Farm. It it was in the community tab and it shared how 50 people showed up to the event. 

 "I thought, what?" Barnes said. "If 50 people could come, the need in Champaign-Urbana must be bigger," she said.

In 2009, she served close to 150 guests. Over the years, the amount of people has grown and that included the number of volunteers. One volunteer, Andrew Turner, said he's been doing this since it started.

"It's just what Christmas is all about," said Turner.

He's included his entire family to get involved in this tradition. Turner's daughter, Olivia Turner, said she remembered how tedious it was as a kid. As she's got older, its now her favorite time of the year.

"I always remember the way I feel when I serve others. There are new people every year and people who come back every year and just growing the friendships has been very awesome," said Olivia Turner.

This year, the church received about 200 volunteers. All of this was made possible by generous donations for the food.