NFL legends, musicians, volunteers serve Christmas meals to homeless


by Natalie Brand

Posted on December 25, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 31 at 11:16 AM

PHOENIX -- Hundreds of local families packed St. Vincent de Paul’s Phoenix shelter this Christmas Day.

Warm meals and kind words were served by special volunteer guests, including former NFL legends and musicians, as part of the annual “Champions for the Homeless” event.

“If you connect your heart to giving, it becomes a lifelong habit,” said Nick Lowery, the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer who founded the event 17 years ago.

“Bring the heart of the community closer together,” Lowery said. “Close the gap between the haves and the have-nots. In the end if we have spirit, we’re all one.”

St. Vincent De Paul Executive Director Steve Zabilski expected to serve about 4,000 holiday meals throughout the day.

“I think this year, we’re probably seeing more working poor people than we ever had before,” he said. “People who have a job, maybe two jobs, but are still struggling to make ends meet.”

Zabiliski says St. Vincent De Paul sees the need year-round, not just on holidays.

“I have clothes on my back, food, a place to sleep, things can only get better,” said Abel Hernandez, who was grateful for a Christmas meal.

“I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree; I have 20 years of experience working, suddenly things fell out,” he continued.

However, he shared with 3TV his Christmas wish of a rebound this new year.

“That I get my job again, that I start working, providing for my family again,” he said.

St. Vincent De Paul is also serving a family evening meal Christmas party at 420 W. Watkins Road in Phoenix.