Houstonians come together to spread Christmas joy

HOUSTON – On Christmas Day, people across Houston unwrapped the gift of giving.

Free food and holiday cheer filled Gallery Furniture's parking lot for the first annual holiday feast put together by Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale.

"I do it mainly because the essence of living is giving," he said.

It's a gesture that warmed many hearts.

Another place where smiles filled the room more than the food filling the plates was the Salvation Army. Anyone was welcome to go inside for a warm meal, and kids were given toys.

One woman said her husband, who died from cancer this year, introduced her to the annual feast three years ago.

On Tuesday, she sat at a table for one and honored his memory.

"It makes me happy because he was the reason I started coming here and I said, 'He is not here but I still come, by the grace of God,'" the woman said.

You don't have to be on the receiving end to feel the Christmas spirit. Another woman, who served plates, was more than happy to give her time.

"This is what Christmas is all about -- giving to people who really need it," she said.

Members of the Houston Police Officers' Union served lunch to officers working on the holiday.

Luis Menendez knows what it's like to work on the holidays.

He is a sergeant with the Houston Police Department and a member of the Houston Police Officers’ Union. For the past seven years, he with the help of his wife, serve lunch and dinner to working officers on Christmas Day.

“It's just a nice warm meal that they could come and take break for a little bit and have a good meal in their stomachs,” Menendez said.

Meals will also be delivered to the two HPD officers who were recently injured in the line of duty.

Officers Alonzo Reid and John Daily were injured when their patrol vehicle was struck by an accused drunk driver, causing it to burst in flames.

Reid is expected to make a full recovery and should be released from the hospital soon. Daily has a very long, complex recovery and will need all of the support from his fellow officers.