ROCHESTER, Minn. - About 50 volunteers and 250 guests came for a Christmas meal at The Salvation Army Adult Day Program in Rochester.
Major James Frye and his wife, Paulette, have been hosting The Salvation Army Christmas dinner for 42 years, 11 of them in Rochester.
"When I was a child our house burned down about two weeks before Christmas...and Santa Clause showed up at the door but he was wearing a uniform. And they brought our family food, and clothes, and toys," Frye said. "They didn't know us but they said, 'here's a family that lost their home.' And I said, 'that's something I want to do.'"
The Salvation Army opens it's doors to everyone and anyone, hoping no one is alone on Christmas day. Frye said they had people from Mayo Clinic who were away from home for the holidays and people who had recently lost loved ones come to the dinner.
"We don't want anybody to be without, we don't want anyone to be alone, that's what it's about," he said. "Christmas spirit is getting together telling people you love them, you care about them."
This is the couple's final year hosting the Christmas dinner as they are retiring.
Denny and Julie Pittman were away from home on Christmas, but found a home to celebrate the holiday at The Salvation Army. The couple is from Louisiana but is in Rochester for Denny's surgery at Mayo Clinic. His surgery was pushed back until after the holiday.
"So instead of driving two days back, and two days up here again, we decided to stay and spend Christmas with y'all," Denny said.
The couple said they enjoy helping the community.
"We're a part of every community. This is God's place, it's God's world, so we're going to give back. He gave to us.' Denny said.
The Pittman's enjoyed volunteering so much, they said they might have just found a new holiday tradition.
"It's the first time we've ever really done anything like this and it's a special feeling. Everybody should experience it and take part in giving back to your community. Because I mean everybody gets down and everybody needs a helping hand," Denny said.