Volunteers gather in Phoenix to feed needy families at Salvation Army Christmas Dinner

Posted: Updated:
More than 5,000 showed up at the Phoenix Convention Center Monday to enjoy the Salvation Army's annual Christmas dinner. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) More than 5,000 showed up at the Phoenix Convention Center Monday to enjoy the Salvation Army's annual Christmas dinner. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
For many, this is their best meal of the year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) For many, this is their best meal of the year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Among the volunteers were players for the Kansas State football team, who are in town to play UCLA in the Cactus Bowl. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Among the volunteers were players for the Kansas State football team, who are in town to play UCLA in the Cactus Bowl. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The traditional holiday feast helps families across the Valley who are struggling to get by. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The traditional holiday feast helps families across the Valley who are struggling to get by. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It's hard to say who enjoyed the Christmas party more - the invited guests or the volunteers.

"It just makes you feel good," said Sally Olivas. "People care about other people. It's very nice."

"It's an opportunity for people that don't have a place to be with family and friends, and be with a new family and make new friends," said Nancy Dihle with the Salvation Army.

More than 5,000 showed up at the Phoenix Convention Center Monday to enjoy the Salvation Army's annual Christmas dinner.

The traditional holiday feast helps families across the Valley who are struggling to get by.

For many, this is their best meal of the year.

But the food is just a small part of it.

Feeling the warmth and kindness of strangers is what it's all about.

"I mean you have adorable babies, you have smiling volunteers, smiling guests, it's a great atmosphere. I think everyone should do it," said volunteer Jenny Hartstein.

Among the volunteers were players for the Kansas State football team, who are in town to play UCLA in the Cactus Bowl.

"It's important to the community, but I think it's important for people who sometimes malign college football athletics," said Steve Leach, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl. "It says a great deal about Kansas State and other universities."

Kim Singletary recently moved to Arizona from North Carolina and wasted no time volunteering for this event to help others.

"I feel doing this gives you a rewarding feeling for me. It makes me feel good to know I can help other people that are less fortunate than myself," said Singletary.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.