You’re putting on sunscreen, heading to a local festival, or taking walks outside, so it must be that time of year—Christmas! For the Gathering’s guests at our South Side site, this is completely normal. Thanks to a partnership with Johnson Controls, we have celebrated Christmas in July at the Gathering for over 20 years.
On Saturday, July 26th, 212 guests enjoyed a special Christmas meal of beef roast, fresh potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and ice cream sundaes with Christmas cookies for dessert. The meal was paid for by Johnson Controls, and prepared and served by JCI employees. To top it off, each guest received a gift bag supplied by JCI employees, and each child was given a treat bag full of wrapped presents and goodies donated by Maureen and Gary Shebesta. Holiday music and decorations added to the festive atmosphere.
The Christmas in July meal requires a special amount of coordination and planning. Becky Lange, who has worked for JCI for 11 years in various accounting and finance roles, took over coordinating the annual Christmas in July meal four years ago. She explains how it all works.
“We have four chefs (two employees - Rick and Pam - and two of Rick’s daughters) that show up at 6:00 a.m. to start cooking 200 lbs of roast beef, 150 lbs of potatoes and a whole lot of green bean casserole! We aim to have at least 25 volunteers to get the room decorated, get cookies put out on trays, assemble goody bags, serve the delicious food, make ice cream sundaes, and do all of the clean up. We also have over 30 volunteers who donate their time and homemade cookies to hand out to the attendees.”
For Becky, seeing the guests smile and watching families get involved are two of the highlights of the project. For many, this opportunity to serve the community is rewarding.
“Personally, I think that we as a company can’t be successful if our communities aren’t successful. We as employees live in these communities and we should have a personal stake in seeing them flourish, which is what Johnson Controls promotes through our Community Involvement Program.”
Christmas in July is just one example of how a dedicated partnership can inspire creative opportunities. Through monthly dinner volunteering, board service, fundraising, Christmas in July and more, Johnson Controls and its employees truly are committed to being “People in community, feeding the hungry.”
Johnson Controls emphasizes community relations and community involvement, and we at The Gathering benefit immensely from this emphasis. Thank you for everything from jingles and cookies to decorations and dinner prep, and to all, a Merry Christmas (in July)!