Annual Christmas Day dinner looking for a new leader

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KOKOMO, Ind. - For 19 years, Judy Favors, her family, and dozens of volunteers have given people in Kokomo a place to go and a meal to eat on Christmas Day.

This year was no different, but the days for Favors at the helm of her free dinner are coming to an end. She wants someone else to pick up the job.

Favors said bad health is to blame.

"Excuse me guys, it's me again," Favors said Thursday as she picked up a microphone, "I need a volunteer to take over the raffle out front."

It's not hard to see that Favors runs the show on Christmas Day.

"Merry Christmas, enjoy your dinner, and if it's bad, blame me," she joked to someone who walked in the door.

It's year number 19 for the Favors Christmas Dinner in Kokomo. Food's served up fast with all the holiday trimmings, and lines are long.

"I was scared to death we wouldn't have many this year. It's looking good, looking good," said Favors.

The meal is free. It's a labor of love Judy and her late husband Russ started to help out those less fortunate.

"For the life of me, I don't know how it ever happened, how we got into this, but we ended up, we have the key to the city now, so we do something right," said Favors.

The dinner began in Judy's home. It grew to be so large that it moved to The Carpenter's House Church in Kokomo. Judy and her crew feed more than 1,000 people, both at the church and through home deliveries. Attendees get a free gift, too.

"Physically, unless I improve, next year will be my last year. I want to make it to 20," said Favors.

Favors said her time in charge is limited. Heart problems are keeping her down, though she has a sense of humor in the plea for someone to step up.

"I'm looking for a bored housewife to take my place, because that's what started it all--a bored housewife," she said.

Thursday, people were thankful for Judy and all that she's done through the years.

"A lot of times I don't have Christmas like everyone else does, so we come here and eat," said Janet Parigen.

Volunteers know Judy's made an impact on everyone.

"You get blessed by being a blessing to other," said Greg McCombs, a longtime volunteer.

So, as Thursday's meal came to a close, Judy knew the search was on for a person to fill her spot, in a dinner that's filled her life with purpose.

"I'm going out with a bang next year," said Favors, "I was put here to do this, and I enjoy every minute of it, and I don't want to give it up, but I don't have a choice."

Favors is having a heart procedure in the coming days. Of course, we wish her well.