The hustling-bustling Christmas season is firing-up. For some, it's non-stop holiday parties, chaotic shopping, tree decorating, cheating on diets, and last minute gift-wrapping.
For others, along with these popular holiday traditions, the main focus is love, benevolent giving, hours of volunteering and the birth of the Christ child, Jesus.
The Kohout family is as big on giving as they are in numbers. For the past three years, this multi-generational family of 20, including 14 siblings aged 10-30, have invited the community to join in a free Christmas feast, The Outpouring.
This year's event will be held at the Oakhurst Community Center on Monday, Dec. 23 from 3-7 p.m. While everyone is welcome, the target population are families in need, the elderly and those with nowhere else to go.
"It's a time of fellowship," event organizer Becky Kohout said, "a time to come together for food, fun and building deeper relationships with neighbors."
"The first year we did this," Kohout continued, "there were a few who enjoyed it so much, that they gave us a cash donation right then and there but it's really the community that brings it all together."
In the past, Mountain Bear Fan Club has donated teddy bears, Pizza Factory has donated paper goods, and Starbucks has donated coffee.
Kohout has sent emails to area groups and churches asking for toy donations and volunteers.
According to Kohout, she only has 10 teams of six committed to making meals, but needs 25-28 teams, who prepare an entire Christmas dinner to feed a group of 12. These teams are given packets on what dishes need to be prepared, and the meals must be delivered either the day before the event, or by 2 p.m. the day of the event.
Currently, there is only one box, located at the Palace Pet Grooming on Highway 41 in Oakhurst, to collect new or slightly-used unwrapped toys.
"My family and I very much enjoy serving," Kohout said, "we love sharing what the Lord has blessed us with ... love, joy and excitement. This is a wonderful time of year and we not only want to celebrate it with our community, but to emphasize what's truly important.
"We want to keep Christmas how Christmas should be ... about the Christ King's birth. It's really not gifts that are important ... it's family, community and keeping life simple."
Just as with previous years, the evening promises much more than a free meal with lively conversation. The Claus' (Santa and his wife) have scheduled a stop to visit with children in Santa's workshop, complete with a rocking chair for comfy lap-sitting, fake fireplace, brightly decorated trees, and of course, toys. Local musicians will not only play Christmas carols, but will invite anyone who wishes to join in a sing-along.
Last year about 400 guests came to celebrate Christmas and share a meal.
Those interested in volunteering, donating or needing additional details can contact Becky Kohout at (559) 313-9570 Becky Kohout or firstname.lastname@example.org