OKLAHOMA CITY -- An annual event more than a decade in the making prepared to feed and serve hundreds of people on Christmas night.
"Stockings For The Homeless" was founded by Mariah McClellin when she was just 12-years-old. McClellin said she was inspired by a pastor who taught her that nobody was ever too young to make a difference.
"After that night, something sparked and I knew I wanted to make a difference but I wasn’t too sure how. I’ve always had a huge heart for the homeless and so, I knew I wanted to do something with that," McClellin said.
Ultimately, she decided she wanted to bring Christmas to the homeless.
"It’s grown from just a couple of boxes of things and some plastic bags in the back of a room to now we take over pretty much the whole floor of the church with rooms they can shop in, and a big dinner, and movies, and Santa and so much more," she said.
McClellin, now 23, told News 4 they served about 30 people during the inaugural event, which also included dinner.
"The very first year, the only way I could get support was with the Celebrate Recovery group that was at the church. It just happened on a Friday and that was the night they met," she said. "My dad went up to them, because they were debating what they wanted to do and was like, 'Hey, my daughter wants to do this. We’ll be here if you want to help us host this.'"
This year, they expected to serve dinner to a crowd upwards of 300 people at the First United Methodist Church.
To pull it off, McClellin said it requires volunteers and many long nights; however, it's well worth it.
"Now that I have a new baby, it’s even longer nights. Especially, this year it’s been hard," she said. "But you know, seeing the looks on everyone’s faces, all that just melts away and just goes away."
If you would like to donate or volunteer for next year's event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.