Mississippi College

Christmas Dinner at Mississippi College Serves Homeless Families

November 6, 2013

Combining a Christmas dinner, holiday music, and gifts from Santa, Mississippi College will again welcome homeless families to the Clinton campus.

Greeting children and adults with the Wingard Home in downtown Jackson, the MC Art Department sponsors the festivities on December 10. Gore Galleries director Randy Jolly will suit up as Santa and bring holiday cheer to kids sitting on his lap at Anderson Hall. The Jackson visitors receive a warm welcome the minute they arrive at 6 p.m.

“It’s the best Christmas ever,” is how Rev. Charlotte Wingard describes the entertaining evening on the Clinton campus every year. “It makes them (residents) feel so special. They never get waited on like this – it’s like going to a fine restaurant for dinner.”

Each December, Campus Dining supplies delicious meals, Mississippi College art students get dressed up to serve the food, and a music professor plays holiday tunes on the piano. Santa arrives amid much fanfare just as the evening is coming to an end.

“Mississippi College has just incredible students that care about the community,” says Wingard, director of operations at the Jackson residence at 1279 North West Street.

Charlotte and her husband, Rev. Roy Wingard, founded the Christian ministry serving the homeless in Mississippi’s capital city in 1990. The facility houses 52 women, children, and men year-round. The Wingards bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the residents. Besides providing spiritual guidance, they help the needy Mississippi adults find jobs during tough economic times.

Retired Mississippi College art professor Mike Hataway got the tradition started on the Clinton campus more than seven years ago. He launched the idea to assist the Wingard Home when he was a Hinds Community College instructor and has stayed with it.

“I enjoy it – that’s my Christmas,” Hataway said when reached at his home in Raymond. “I have a lot to be thankful for.”

A Mississippi College alumnus, Hataway will return to his alma mater to get reconnected with visitors from the Wingard Home and visit with friends on the Clinton campus.

Charlotte and Roy Wingard got the ministry started soon after they moved to Jackson after once being homeless in Atlanta. “We’ve been here for 20-something years,” Charlotte Wingard said. “We’ve made our stand in Jackson.”

With America’s economy still struggling, it’s been difficult for non-profits like the Wingard Home to survive. “People are afraid to give,” she said. “But the needs are greater.”

Mississippi College faculty, staff or students interested in volunteering with this December event should contact Randy Jolly at 601.925.3880 or Art Department chairman Randy Miley at 601.925.3912.

Photo: A visit from Santa is just one of the ways the MC Art Department provides holiday cheer to the homeless at the annual Christmas Dinner.

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