Rock Bottom Brewery serves up hot holiday meals to the homeless

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.  — On a day when most restaurants and stores are closed, Rock Bottom Brewery opened its doors to hundreds of the city’s homeless and in-need families.

It’s an annual tradition that Rock Bottom has hosted the past 13 years.

“It’s part of our culture trying to give back to the community,” said Rock Bottom general manager, Joe Trier. “It’s amazing to give back what you can. Because I feel blessed, my family feels blessed and hopefully we can pass that on.”

“Tradition” is a word that’s tossed around frequently during the annual Christmas Day meal.

For many guests, they look forward to a hot holiday meal with all the trimmings each year.

“It tastes amazing,” said Alisha, one of the 700-plus individuals enjoying the free meal. “They really actually make you feel like they are your family instead of ‘eh, you’re here, sit down, shut up and eat.’ We get tired of feeling that way. We get enough of that from the shelters, from the regular eating group. It’s nice to just have somebody that actually just cares.”

Alisha and her family are proof that the word “family” includes more than just relatives.

The person she refers to as her son, TJ, she met a few years ago when he was 17 years old. Now 23, TJ traveled back from Miami, Florida just to have Christmas together.

“This is what we do every Christmas no matter what,” said Alisha.

There are dozens of volunteers plus part of the Rock Bottom staff that make the entire afternoon possible.

“My whole family comes out every Christmas so this is our sixth year here,” said Allison Barber. Barber and her extended family shifted their Christmas Day tradition to include a few hours of volunteering at Rock Bottom feeding the homeless.

“My nephew Zachary is now 15, he’s been doing this for six years and I said ‘gosh, every Christmas Day you give up to serve the homeless,’ and in his own words he said ‘I couldn’t imagine doing anything else on Christmas.’ I think that’s the spirit of all the volunteers here,” Barber added.

The guests may wait in line, but once inside they have everything they could possibly want: pot roast, mashed potatoes, casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls and dessert.

For families with children, Santa sticks around to take photos and give stocking stuffers to make sure the environment is festive and fun.

The event is part of the Craft Works Foundation commitment to fighting hunger. All of the leftover food will be donated to local shelters.