Feast in the East returns this week with plans to feed people in need for the second year, but so far donations are coming up short.

For the inaugural event, organizers expected to serve 500 meals to people in East Waco who might want a hot meal for the holidays. When more than 750 got in line for the meal, organizers knew then that the event could be a reoccurring way to give back to part of their hometown, organizer Rocky Miller said.

“That really, really surprised me,” Miller said of last year’s turnout. “It let me know all of our efforts were needed in the community and we were doing the right thing by trying to help others at this time of year.”

With mere days to go, organizers have set the bar higher, with hopes of distributing 1,000 free meals from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Waco Multipurpose Center at the historic Paul Quinn Campus, 1020 Elm Ave. But that’s only going to be possible if more donations come in, Miller said.

“That’s what we should be doing as citizens of Waco and the United States of America,” Miller said. “We should all be giving more than are receiving.”

Miller, who was born and raised in East Waco, said the Feast in the East event is dependent on the generosity individuals and community service organizations as they aim to help the underserved. Volunteers will also hand out seasonal gifts donated by community members, including, coats, hats, gloves, blankets or school supplies. Donations can be dropped off at Look At Me Now Barbershop, 2401 W. Waco Drive; The Eatery, 821 Clifton St.; and the Jockey Club, 815 Elm Ave.

“This event, it just does not happen without the support of the people,” Miller said. “I’m trying to do my best to get the word out.”

Last year, 170 people showed up to volunteer, which, while it was a blessing, was a bit overwhelming, Miller said. Organizers are trying to better schedule volunteers for the event by having them sign up to help, that way duties are more evenly distributed, he said. Anyone interested in donating to the event or volunteering can go to gofundme.com/feastintheeast or email Miller at rocky@prosperitytax.com.

“We all have an obligation to make this world a better place,” Miller said. “In order to do so, it can’t be something we say. We have to put actions behind our words.”

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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