On Saturday, Dec. 21, two area groups combined to provide a community holiday meal as well as hold a toy drive.
According to a press release, organizers John Kunkel and Shannon Hix wanted to have an event for anyone who might be spending the holidays alone or couldn’t go home to spend time with family over the next few days.
“This is a very lonely time for many people, most especially in the LGBTQ community,” said Hix of Batesville Pride, one of the local groups behind the dinner. “Some in their families have turned their back and no longer allow them to come home for the holidays.”
According to a representative of the group, Batesville Pride is “…a local LGBTQ organization working to create safe spaces for people to find support and to be themselves, working to bring awareness to LGBTQ lives and issues in order to help break down stereotypes and judgments.” Savage Hippy is described by a dinner organizer as a local “health and wellness fabric” brand.
“Out of this idea came much more than we dreamed. I asked Randy Seale to join us, and he brought in Dylan Brackley, co-owner of Savage Hippy. We began raising funds to buy the food that Dylan and his team prepared. We also wanted to do more and allow others the opportunity to give to others so we chose to do a toy and stuffed animal drive for Family Violence Prevention of Independence County, and we collected over 150 items for the children of those families.”
The traditional meal prepared by Brackley and his team also featured desserts prepared by Haley Stephens and Alisa Lancaster, the release said. The dinner was presented in the new Citizens Bank community room and had a crowd of approximately 50 people.
The leftover food and drinks were all delivered to a local shelter in the hopes that others could enjoy a better holiday, organizers said.
“We want to thank all of those who donated money and time to make others holiday more enjoyable and less lonely by providing a space for people to come together to feel loved and accepted,” said Hix.
Patrons in line helping themselves to the meal
From left: Dylan Brackley and David Pagan preparing the meal
Brackley serving up a dish
Pictured, from left: Organizers Randy Seale, Andrew Lane, Shannon Hix, Dyllan Brackley (holding his son Kade), Savanna Rison, and John Kunkle / Submitted images by Michael Shellenberger