For the 21st year in a row, thousands gathered in celebration of HEB’s Feast of Sharing, which took place at Ford Park on Friday, Dec. 9, and invited the entire region to come together for fellowship and food.
As an HEB tradition for Golden Triangle residents for more than two decades, it is an opportunity for friends, family members and neighbors to gather together to enjoy a free holiday meal and live entertainment.
Harvey Zernial, who has been the chair of the event for 17 of its 21 years, said HEB is a very philanthropic organization that believes in giving back to the community that makes it succeed.
“Giving back to the community is very important,” he said. “The communities we serve, we do well in. This is a way to give back and it’s at the time of the season when sharing is important.”
And give back they did. More than 5,500 people turned out at Ford Park, which added up to 1,250 pounds of glazed ham; 155 gallons of mashed potatoes; 90 gallons of green beans; 60 gallons of gravy; 450 apple pies; not to mention the thousands of dinner rolls and soft drinks that were served.
Along with the more than 3,000 meals that were prepared for homebound individuals, and delivered through eight organizations HEB partners with, about 8,800 individuals received a holiday meal courtesy of the grocer making it the second highest in its 21-year-history.
To make the venture possible, the Feast of Sharing committee managed to find over 1,600 volunteers to help dish out the rations to those in attendance. Those volunteers came from all corners of the Triangle, from schools, churches and civic organizations.
Attendees of the Feast of Sharing not only enjoyed a free and satisfying meal, but also a beautiful “Holiday Wonderland” theme and live entertainment with performances by the Port Neches-Groves Indian singers, as well as a children’s area where kids could enjoy face painting and crafts.
Beaumont Municipal Transit and Port Arthur Transit System also provided free transportation to the Ford Park Event Center the night of the event.
Zernial credited the success of the feast and the number of attendees to the giving nature of the community as a whole.
“I think for one, people understand that HEB gives back,” he said. “That makes it so inviting to be a part of. We don’t target one group; we invite everyone. It’s a seasonal celebration and it works very well in the Golden Triangle community because the people are giving anyway. It’s just that time of year that makes people want to share.”
According to information from HEB, the tradition of the Feast of Sharing started 23 years ago in Laredo and Corpus Christi and has since grown to include 31 feasts throughout Texas and into Mexico during November and December.