DES MOINES, Iowa -- For this holiday season, a metro nonprofit gave more than just material goods to the homeless community Friday night.
Joppa, a nonprofit that works to help end homelessness, hosted its 11th annual Christmas Celebration for more than 300 homeless people. The event included a warm meal, stations for them to fill up bags with winter goods and gifts, haircuts and even massages.
"It brings together homeless people that normally wouldn’t have Christmas festivities," said Bonnie Schroder, who was formerly homeless.
Volunteer Joe Henkles said it's his favorite part of Christmas every year.
"Here’s a group of people that no one invites to Christmas parties, office parties or many gatherings, so it’s a chance to get them to celebrate Christmas in a great way," he said.
The organization prepared for more than 350 people, but he said it felt like more poured through at Walnut Creek Church in the East Village.
Schroder said this is the one place for the homeless to feel like they have a true sense of belonging.
"It's dangerous out there. People become hopeless and desperate," she said. "But in here it's warm and cozy. It’s like everybody pulled together."
The event also had music and entertainment, as well as a photo booth for kids to take pictures with Santa Claus.
"People need company and companionship, and Joppa gives it all," Schroder said.