Volunteers will gather at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame this Christmas Day to host Feed the Hungry, an annual event that provides free meals and warm smiles for those who need a holiday pick-me-up.
Scotty Seay, who founded the annual event six years ago, said that the event is meant to feed those who are physically hungry in the community, but community members that are emotionally “hungry” during the holiday.
“When I use the title Feed the Hungry, it’s not necessarily talking about feeding the hungry as in physically giving them food; it could feed the hungry who are lonely, misplaced, missing a loved one, been in the house so long with the pandemic going on, or whatever it is,” Seay said. “There’s things out there that people hide from and they might not be able to see their family, so we try to offer not just fellowship with food, but to try to let them understand that we’re just one huge family down there.”
Feed the Hungry is open to anyone in need, both in Dawson and surrounding counties.
“It’s not just Dawson County, we try to help everyone in Dawson County but we reach out to other counties too and we’ll go out of our way to make other counties feel welcome,” Seay said. “And we’re not just feeding all the homeless and assisted living places, we’re taking care of the veterans, the police department, the fire department, 911 dispatch, we do hospitals if we can — the list goes on and on.”
How Feed the Hungry got its start
Seay said that the idea to start the event was inspired by his upbringing and the values instilled in him by his parents.
“When we were little we didn’t have much but we had plenty,” Seay said. “We used to get the Sears and Roebuck Wish Book and my mother and dad didn’t have a lot of money, so for Christmas my brother and I both got to circle the two things we wanted out of the wish book. And we always got those two things with a letter from Santa that said to love each other, take care of your family, and if you see someone in need always help them.”
The “pay-it-forward” attitude stuck with Seay throughout the years and contributed greatly to his passion for helping others.
“I was taught that you never deny somebody a smile, a hello or a goodbye, and you always try to show respect to the elderly, the military, the disabled and your parents,” Seay said. “I’m just a God-fearing Christian guy who’s not perfect and falls short daily, but I thank God every day that I’m able to do this: to keep one foot in front of the other and put a smile on others’ faces.”
Pre-orders will be accepted for the meals, and meal delivery can be provided for those that can’t pick up food themselves. Extra safety precautions will be taken this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including social distancing as much as possible and the addition of sanitizing stations.
Last year’s event fed over 2,000 people and enlisted the help of over 250 volunteers, according to Seay.
“I’m so blessed with all the wonderful people in Dawsonville and surrounding counties to come together on that day,” Seay said. “I hope this year we can feed even more.”
How to get involved
For those wanting to help with the event, Seay said that there are many ways to volunteer, from cooking and dropping off food to volunteering time.
“I fund it out of my own pocket and I don’t ask people for money, just for donations of hot food from the menu provided or desserts,” Seay said. “We will take monetary donations, I don’t ask for them but if people do offer or if a business wants to sponsor or send donations we’ll take it.”
The menu this year will include chicken tenders, spiral ham, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and desserts. Dessert donations can be dropped off at the Racing Hall of Fame either on Christmas Day or the day before, and hot, prepared food must be dropped off the morning of the event.
For those wanting to volunteer in person, Seay said that any amount of time, no matter how small, is a valuable help and will prove to be as much a blessing to the volunteer as it is to the people being served.
“If you can give me 15 minutes or all day, that’s what I’m gonna take and you’ll get a blessing out of it either way,” Seay said. “We don’t turn anyone down, not any volunteers and not any food.”
The event is scheduled to last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Day, but Seay said that he is prepared to stay at the Racing Hall of Fame for as long as he needs to.
“We won’t close the doors if we have a lot of food or my phone keeps buzzing with people who need food,” Seay said. “We’ll keep serving until the cows come home!”
Any food donations that are leftover after the event will be picked up by Frankie Holbrook of local charity Shine His Light Ministry, who will take the food to shelters in Atlanta so that nothing will go to waste.
Seay said that in the end, he’s hoping that his efforts will be able to bless as many people as possible and to help create a legacy.
"I wanted to do this in honor of my grandparents and my mother and father because they’ve always said pay it forward, and my Christian faith tells me that I need to always take care of others,” Seay said. “It’s something near and dear to me, and I always think that when it’s time for me to go and the good Lord takes me home I just hope someone in the community picks this up and keeps it going because I think Dawson County and the surrounding counties need it.”
For more information on the event, how to pre-order a meal or how to volunteer, you can call Scotty Seay at (770) 866-2005 or email Seay69@msn.com.