After the loss of her parents and major surgery, Deborah Haar was grateful to discover a friend in Audrey Kauffman about 10 years ago.
Over time, Kauffman, the owner of Cafe Via Roma, got to know some of Haar's neighbors at the Dulle and Hamilton towers, too.
It was then Kauffman was surprised to hear how many residents in the 200-apartment Housing Authority property had family in town but they didn't visit or celebrate holidays with them.
A member of Immaculate Conception parish, Kauffman first tried to organize transportation for the residents to share in the community Thanksgiving meal served at the church each year.
When that didn't work, she decided to cater a satellite location that holiday at the towers.
The residents were so grateful four years ago, Kauffman turned around and organized a Christmas dinner too.
The fourth Christmas at The Towers party was Saturday, feeding about 150 residents with a holiday meal, complete with homemade rolls and cheesecake.
"For many, it's the only Christmas they may have," Kauffman said.
Each year Kauffman arranges special guests. The first year, First Lady Georganne Nixon attended and following years featured Jefferson City Chorale performing in their elegant floor-length gowns and tuxedos and photos with Santa Claus.
The Makers Dozen from Immanuel Lutheran Church, Honey Creek, entertained with their bluegrass and Gospel music this year.
Now, Kauffman has set her sights on a larger goal.
"I would like to find 12 organizations or churches to adopt a month, where they provide a hot meal and entertainment one night," she said.
The large community room is closed most of the time. So residents enjoy the chance just to get together, in addition to a meal and entertainment, Kauffman said.
"That could bring some real hope, so the residents have something to look forward to," she said.
On Saturday, residents arrived well in advance of the 11:30 a.m. meal time. Many smiles and hugs were exchanged.
And everyone enjoyed selecting a couple of gift items from the table of gently used donations Kauffman's volunteers collected throughout the last year, said Sharon McQueen.
"We try to get religious items, Nativity scenes in particular," McQueen said. "They love anything to decorate their rooms with."
Residents also were able to take table decorations, Christmas tree ornaments, garland wreaths, lights and other donated items, which had been hung for the event by area Girl Scouts on Friday evening.
"It works out when the intentions are right," Kauffman said.