Rose of Sharon provides haven, friendship to needy

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - It's breakfast time at the Rose of Sharon Soup Kitchen in Huntsville.

Oatmeal and coffee was just served, but Debbie Patton looks ahead to lunch.

"We're going to have turkey but just a little bit different. I'm going to fix something nice."

Patton serves at least two meals a day out of a thrift store and soup kitchen in one.

"If I don't get work, I know these ladies always prepare food. Never have a bad meal here," said Gene Melden.

For Melden, the Rose of Sharon is not just a place to eat.

"You meet a lot of friends here."

Friends like Mike who is homeless but helps with cooking when he can.

"My family and I have been estranged for quite some time now. I've been adopted," he said.

For many who stop by, Rose of Sharon is a home away from the streets. They admit it's hard this time of year, but longtime volunteers like Patton make sure they have a proper Christmas.

Every year, Patton hosts a party on Christmas Day for the homeless and needy.

"We are the only family they have and the presents that they get from us are the only presents they get," said Patton.

Gifts are always welcome but with cold weather settling in, Patton said winter coats are needed.

It's not just the homeless that frequent the Rose of Sharon, though.

Eugene Foley is a disabled citizen and said it's a struggle.

"I didn't have a place to go, and I come in here they gave us food. I didn't even have a jacket and they gave me a jacket as one of my presents."

While the Rose of Sharon accepts gift donations with open arms, they know the friendly faces and companionship during the holidays is as much as a gift too.

"Without that I don't know what a lot of people would do," said Foley. "And a lot of these people don't have anywhere else to go. But they have here to come to."

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