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Johnson family serving community on Christmas

Fourth year for meal program

Posted 12/24/21

Tyrell Johnson and family find peace on Christmas Day through serving others a hot meal.

The family gathering to feed folks started with the philanthropic work of matriarch Mamie Johnson.

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Johnson family serving community on Christmas

Fourth year for meal program

Posted

Tyrell Johnson and family find peace on Christmas Day through serving others a hot meal.

The family gathering to feed folks started with the philanthropic work of matriarch Mamie Johnson. She continues to serve the community in many ways, including the August backpack program for students.

Mamie’s been a mentor to many and has largely impressed upon her family to give back to the community through action, not just talk. Her grandson, Tyrell, is now heading up a Christmas Day dinner over at Chili’s on North Main; he works for one of the Nashville locations.

The 35-year-old says he was as well influenced to help others through his own parents, Tyrone and Karen Johnson; his sister Ashley Johnson also serves meals on Christmas Day.

Those needing food call ahead to order (931-735-0301) and generous folks help the Johnsons by delivering the food. It’s a meat and two sides, such as warm mac and cheese, which Tyrell says is all received with gratitude.

In last three years of the Christmas Day meal, the Johnson Family have also managed to feed firefighters and policemen. As well, a lot of senior citizens, he advised, benefit from the Christmas Day food.

“A lot of older people . . . don’t have a lot to help them,”

says Tyrell.

It’s a time for many of those delivering food to talk with those alone, perhaps even offering a Christmas Day prayer, if the people ask. Or, perhaps some will just want a little conversation; they’re prepared to serve.

His employer, Chili’s, donates the space and Publix and Palmer Food Service has assisted, along with many members of the community. It takes a village, according to Tyrell, who explains the first year they served 100. The next year it was 300 and last year, 500 people received plates.

Even when they run out of food, like they did last year, Tyrell notes that they improvise; he served chicken tenders at the end of the event in 2020. He says while some items might be harder to come by this year, given supply and demand issues in the country, he’s finding that most everything is available to conduct their event.

As someone who works in food retail, he knows it just takes a lot of organization and pre-planning to pull off such an endeavor. He says he’s blessed with help from a lot of good folks.

Tyrell notes that he has a 15-year-old son; he wants to mentor him to continue this legacy of love on Christmas Day. “You don’t have to be a celebrity to lead . . . want to show kids how to do it now.”

His dad created the original schematic for the course of events, he says. Such ventures do take a lot of time and manpower, but through generous donations, the Johnsons hope it will continue in Shelbyville and beyond for generations to come.

Tyrell says given the increase in numbers, he’s also enlisted more delivery help this year—people who know “the lay of the land.” He credited members of the Jaycees for helping out too.

The Johnsons are no doubt tired by sunset on Christmas Day. Their family will gather this Saturday night for their own holiday dinner.

People will continue to call into the night, Tyrell says with a chuckle.

One thing for sure, the Johnsons and friends will have a good Christmas sleep, knowing many, many people in want or need have been fed.

“You can’t really receive a blessing without giving to someone else,” says Tyrell; his mother nods in agreement. 

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