Panama City Rescue Mission Filling Bellies and Hearts on Easter - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Panama City Rescue Mission Filling Bellies and Hearts on Easter

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Some Bay County citizens often wonder where their next meal will come from, but the Panama City Rescue Mission didn't want anyone to worry on Easter Sunday.

The mission served its traditional Easter dinner in style to dozens of people. Guests were treated to the full restaurant experience, with a hostess, waitress, and a traditional holiday menu. They served ham and all of the fixings, including a roll, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole.

Dozens of volunteers took time away from their families to give back to their community.

"It's very humbling and brings me back to my roots, so I'm not too unfamiliar with how these people feel," said Israel Cruz an airman from Tyndall Air Force Base.

Cruz was one of more than 40 volunteers serving an the dinner to those who couldn't afford one.

He once was also on the other side of the table.

"To come from a background that I came from, a city in New York and to kind of grow up with nothing," said Cruz.

The Director of the Rescue Mission Reverend Billy Fox said it isn't uncommon for people who were once homeless or at risk of losing things to want to later volunteer when they get on their feet.

"They get to come in and say I almost hit there and say been there done that, and I want to help someone who has," said Fox.

Fox and his team of volunteers shared a kind word and a warm meal, which looked more like a family feast.

"We are about family and a lot of the folks that come here, they're estranged from their families, so we're their family," said Fox.

"Me being catholic, this means a lot to me because it's a big deal in a catholic family to celebrate Easter, and I'd like to give back to people who don't have a family or a home," said Cruz.

Cruz is away from his family this Easter, but has a second one at the Rescue Mission. He hopes this new family moves forward with a full belly and heart.

"Do not give up on your dreams. You can be hitting rock bottom and still pursue a career or anything you'd like to do," said Cruz.

The meal was free to anyone who was hungry. Reverend Fox said thanks to donations from the community, it cost the mission less than two dollars per meal.

Sunday's Easter Banquet marked more than more four decades of Easter meals.