Giving community volunteering makes for successful Outpouring

About 80 volunteers celebrated the true meaning of Christmas by preparing food, and serving an estimated 400 adults and children at the Dec. 23 free Outpouring dinner at the Oakhurst Community Center.

For the past four years, the Kohout family, all 20, including 15 siblings (ages 11 to 32) and their spouses, and Mom and Dad (Audrey and Steven), have worked hard to produce a successful event.

“Early on, we were pretty short of volunteers to cook and work at the event, but when it got close, more people came forward to assist,” said Ranae Kohout. “We were blessed by all the volunteers. It takes the support of the entire community to make this happen. It’s a time of fellowship and a time for the community to come together for food, fun, and building deeper relationships with neighbors. There is no way we could have done it without the people who volunteered to help.”

Seventeen teams of six prepared and delivered the food, which consisted of a traditional Christmas feast including roasted turkey, ham, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, dinner rolls, and cranberry sauce. For dessert, community members dropped off a variety of pies, cakes and cookies. While everyone was welcomed to the event, the targeted population were the elderly, and those with no one to share a holiday meal with.

Ranae said it was wonderful to see the community come together to celebrate the season.

“The goal of the Outpouring is to celebrate Christmas in a place where you feel special, comfortable, and loved,” Ranae said.

Ruth Oren, and her husband of 64 years, Eliot, have never missed an Outpouring event.

“We are so lucky to live in an area with so many wonderful people,” Ruth said. “We have traveled all over the world and there is no where that has greater people than we have here.”

Ruth said she loves the event, especially when the children sing.

“I adopt all those children in my mind, since our grandchildren live all over the country,” Ruth said.

Monica Jeffers and her three children (Hannah, 16, Joshua, 13, Ivy, 9) volunteered to prepare and serve food at the Outpouring.

Monica, her husband Jody, and the three children lost their home in the Courtney Fire, and Monica said the support shown her family by the community was humbling.

“We decided to help with the Outpouring as a way to give back to this wonderful community,” Monica said.

Santa (Flint Tompkins) welcomed everyone to the event, and each child was given a teddy bear donated by the Mountain Bear Fan Club.

Starbucks donated coffee and a DJ entertained the crowd throughout the event at no charge.

“My family and I very much enjoy serving,” Ranae 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 — the Christ King’s birth, family, and community.”