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Christmas Feast spreads love

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Tarsha Brown, right, receives a helping of hush puppies from Michan Bell, left, on Friday during the fourth annual Christmas Love Feast at the Imperial Centre.

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BY JENNY WHITE
Staff Writer

Monday, December 24, 2018

In addition to art exhibits, children’s interactive learning exhibits and planetarium views, the Imperial Centre for Arts and Sciences found itself full of food and love on Friday night.

Rocky Mount residents Wallace and Sherry Cherry hosted their fourth annual Christmas Feast. The event targets the community’s homeless population as well as the general public to sit down and share a meal.

“It’s for anyone looking for a hot meal and some Christmas hope,” Wallace Cherry said.

With the help of several local businesses, the Cherrys served about 150 people a hot meal catered by Gardner’s Barbecue.

The event began with some special recognitions, including a congratulations to Gail McClane Batchelor, owner of Master Shoe Repair on Main Street.

“We admire this business woman for not just being a woman operating a successful business but for being one of the few African-American women to own a successful shoe repair business in the country,” Wallace Cherry said.

After a convocation from the Rev. Dennis Gunter and gospel music, the Christmas Feast commenced. Barbara Johnson, a community advocate and neighborhood organizer for the Villa Place neighborhood, said this was her second year coming to the event.

“It’s a good community event and the Cherrys really do put a lot of love into it. It benefits everyone — some people come for the hot meal, some come for the fellowship. It serves a lot of people in a lot of different ways, but it’s all about God’s love and our love for each other,” Johnson said.

Wallace Cherry said his inspiration for the event came through prayers.

“The Lord just laid it on my heart to do this for my community. People experience a lot of good feelings at Christmas, but also it can cause a lot of hurt for some. They’re lonely, they’re sad or just not feeling connected to God as we celebrate Christmas,” he said.

Sherry Cherry agreed and said it’s not just homeless people who are hungry, though the event seeks to serve their immediate need for a hot meal.

“All people are hungry for something. There are people who work every day, in their homes, who are hungry for love, companionship, spiritual connections and a human touch,” she said.

The Wallaces added they hope the Christmas Feast lets people know there is always love in our community — from and for each other, and from God.

The Wallaces said they could not put the event on without the help of local businesses and donors.

Wallace Cherry thanked Pridgen Tire Center, Bennett and Gulley PA, EZ Muffler, D&K Transportation, Tarheel Auto Sales, Hunter Odom Funeral Home and Mt. Zion First Baptist Church in his opening remarks.

The Wallaces were inundated with hugs and thanks throughout the event.

As Lynette Moore embraced Sherry Cherry she said, “Thank you. This is enough love to sustain me through the whole next year.”

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