Wearing a red sweater and white turtleneck, Kevin Michel cruised through the streets of Harford County in a red SUV yesterday, well-dressed for his Christmas Day task.
The 52-year-old Havre de Grace man spent the early afternoon delivering meals to needy families, assisting the efforts of the Shamrock youth group from St. Patrick Catholic Church.
Michel said he did not realize the color relation of his Ford Explorer to Santa's sleigh. "This is just a coincidence," he said. "The sweater, however, was deliberate."
With more than a dozen warm meals piled into the back of his sport utility vehicle, Michel and Donald Bowlen, another volunteer, delivered to homes and senior citizen buildings. The program was started this year by the youth group, looking to give people in the county a warm meal for Christmas.
"Some of these people, you know this is the only meal they are going to get, and we just like to spend time with them, sit down with them and ask them if there is anything else we can do," said Bowlen, 47, of Havre de Grace. "The reactions from people are 'thank you,' and they are just really appreciative."
More than 20 youths from Shamrock were assisted yesterday by dozens of adult volunteers cooking and preparing food, as well as packing and delivering the meals. Others helped serve families that came to the church dining hall for dinner.
Shamrock member Victor Green, 18, of Havre de Grace said he was glad to take a pause from spending time with his family during Christmas to hand out meals.
"The smiles on their faces were really great," Green said, as he helped serve in the dining hall. "They didn't say much - it was the smiles that were thank you."
Another member, Chris Guzman, 16, of Havre de Grace, said many people went far beyond a simple thanks. "People have blessed me so many times today," he said.
In the dining hall, Christmas songs poured from speakers. The smell of turkey and blueberry pie filled the air as people laughed and socialized around tables decked with holiday decorations.
Willie Killibrew, 40, of Havre de Grace was one of the more than 200 people who received dinner in the dining hall.
"This is really good," Killibrew said, as he ate a piece of pie. "The food is good, and the people are good for giving it."
In addition to delivering warm food to the needy, Michel and Bowlen had an unexpected pickup at one senior citizen home in Aberdeen.
As Bowlen was delivering a meal to a residence, he came across 63-year-old Thomas Peterson, upset that he did not have a ride to get to the church dinner.
Bowlen stopped Peterson in mid-sentence and told him: "Go get your coat, we're going to give you a ride."
At the dining hall, Peterson got himself a hearty plate of turkey dinner.
Peterson said he has attended meals at the church for a long time. "This is just something that is really nice to come to for the holiday," he said.
Christine Berkins, one of the program organizers, said the group delivered about 150 meals throughout the county.
She said next year's program will be larger.
"I expect many more people next year," she said. "More people will be here because of word of mouth, and we'll take them all."