CAMP VERDE – Duane Burris has a pretty large family, more than 100 members or so.
Not related by blood, Burris gathers each Tuesday with his extended family for about 90 minutes at the Town of Camp Verde’s community center gymnasium.
Thanks to the Bread of Life Mission, everyone eats a hot meal, one of several local pastors delivers a message, and everyone receives box of groceries on the way out.
But things gets complicated for some folks with the ‘on the way out’ part.
Because some of Burris’s family doesn’t has a home to go to. Of the ones who have a roof, many are more than one check away from being on solid ground.
This is why Burris has such a large family. For him, life is about giving back to others, especially the ones who need it the most.
Thanksgiving, Burris says, is “when things get hard.” The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Burris and the rest of his Bread of Life family do their best to make the holidays a little less daunting.
Not only are plates full of turkey and the trimmings, Bread of Life “like[s] to make sure that there’s plenty of leftovers.”
It’s important to nourish a hungry person, Burris says. But as the face of the Christian organization, he’s “just hoping that they hear the message and receive the meaning behind it.”
“That’s what this is all about,” Burris says. “Thanking the Lord for what he has given. Always has been. Always will be.”
The Thanksgiving to-go grocery box is special, Burris says, with a turkey inside with all the other goodies. Bread of Life also feeds folks a Christmas dinner the second week of December, and the grocery box that night comes with a ham.
And kids will each get a toy that night, Dec. 11.
“When we’re handing out toys to the kids after the Christmas meal, you can’t help but watch those kids, their smiles, the excitement,” Burris says. “I think that’s the only reason some people put up with Christmas.”
Burris says that feeding people during the holidays – feeding people at any time – takes a great contribution from the community.
“The family aspect of Thanksgiving and Christmas means that when you come down here, it’s a big family,” he says. “It helps bring joy back into the season.”
Camp Verde’s community center gym is located at Hollamon and Main streets next to the soccer field. For more information about Bread of Life, call 928- 567-6931. Or visit www.bolmaz.org.
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42