BOCA RATON, Fla. - This time of year can be difficult for many families struggling financially. A simple meal might not be an option.
But on Christmas Day, it was a show of neighbor helping neighbor for 300 people in Boca Raton.
The Town Center at Boca Raton is normally closed on Christmas, but on Monday the mall opened up its doors and teamed up with local non-profit Boca Helping Hands to feed and spread the holiday cheer to families in need.
For little Kayla Louis and her family of Margate, Fla., the Christmas spirit is bright.
"Joy and love," she told WPTV. "It's the time to spend with your family."
Her mom, Lisa, just had surgery a couple of days ago.
"I didn't have a chance to do anything with my kids. I just got out of the hospital," Lisa said.
But thanks to Boca Helping Hands and dozens of volunteers, including many employees from the mall, these families are being taken care of this holiday.
"This is really breathtaking. It's nice and beautiful," said Lisa. "All of these people, when they could be at home with their families, they're here helping out, they're serving. And I think that's what Christmas is all about.”
Volunteers served a full Christmas feast on a linen spread. All of the food -- pasta, turkey, lasagna and more -- cooked up by the very restaurants inside the Town Center at Boca Raton.
The local rotary clubs, mall employees and local leaders like Congressman Ted Deutch and Boca Raton city councilman Bob Weinroth volunteered their time serving plates of hot food, refilling beverages and cleaning up tables.
"A number of these families are regular clients of Boca Helping Hands, which we regard as the working poor people," said Gregory Hazle, Boca Helping Hands interim executive director.
Santa Claus even made a personal visit to every table and handed out gifts to children.
"We all have a responsibility to be good neighbors and our neighbors don't always mean those people who live next door to us or share our particular status in life," said Hazle.
Dorothy Roberts invited her neighbors to the feast. Although they might not be related, she sees them as family.
"We are one family. And it's so important to reach out to our neighbors, especially not just this time of year, but at all times," she said.
Participating Town Center at Boca Raton restaurants included The Capital Grill, Boston Market, Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, Pinon Grill, Maggiano’s, Chick-fil-A and California Pizza Kitchen.
Beyond Christmas Day, Boca Helping Hands feeds people in need every day, serving about 60,000 meals each year. They are always in need of donations and volunteers.