Rays of Sonshine hosts holiday meal - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Rays of Sonshine hosts holiday meal

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MONROE, La (KNOE 8 NEWS) - Many of us spent the holiday gathered around the dinner table, visiting with loved ones or even working. But if you're battling addiction, the holiday season may not have a lot of joy. On Christmas Day, local faith-based recovery center Rays of Sonshine hosted a lunch for everyone in the community to ease the sadness of those battling with addiction.

Jacqueline White says she has been in and out of recovery centers for decades. This is her second time at Rays of Sonshine and she is spending her Christmas at their annual community dinner. She is also participating in a play after the meal.

 "I think it's wonderful that the community gets to come and we get to share this play and get to dine with them. I love that. I just think it's wonderful," Jacqueline said. 

Claire White with Rays of Sonshine said the community meal began nearly a decade ago for recovering addicts that had no other place to go. She said now the annual event is now so much more than that.

"We've noticed that it has changed over the last 8 years. And now it really is family. They know us very well. We have some street people but generally, it is family of those people in recovery," Claire said.  

Claire said family members provide the food and community members serve the lunch. At this year's event, KNOE's very own Shardae Neal and Dalila Thomas helped out. Claire said the meal is a part of their mission, to help people stay sober.

"Often people in addiction find it difficult when family would be together, and they don't have family to be together with, so we provide the option," Claire said.

But Jacqueline said Rays of Sonshine has done more for her than just provide a place to go on Christmas. 

"It's like learning to live all over again. And like I said, I have been to several other treatment centers, but it has not been anything like Rays of Sonshine. They prepare you for life," Jacqueline said.

Jacqueline also says many of the girls in the program with her are like her very own family.

The lunch wrapped up with a unique version of the first Christmas written by Rays of Sonshine's very own Claire White.

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