Annual 'People First' dinner served up with side of hope

'We should help people who need help'

READING, Pa. - Several hundred people in Reading were given dinner with a side of hope Tuesday at the ninth annual People First event.

The Queen City Family Restaurant on Lancaster Avenue has kept the tradition alive as a way to feed those in need. With so many people, just one bad circumstance away from homelessness can happen to anyone.

There's something about being greeted with a smile that makes others smile, especially when it's followed with a hot cup of coffee or a hot meal.

"Everybody needs to know that they care," said customer June Reichardt.

Reichardt used to be homeless seven years ago. She comes back to the Queen City every so often to show that there is hope despite the struggle.

"Things happen out of your control and it is what it is. You just got to keep going no matter what," she said.

For nine years, the restaurant has been a holiday hub to help feed the homeless and needy around Thanksgiving. The owner, Elsayed Elmarzouky, started the "People First" event to show people they matter.

"We should help people who need help and we shouldn't look down on anyone," said Elmarzouky.

His daughter has taken over the planning, but volunteers, organization, and the people who come back every year really keep this thing alive.

"I am really just excited seeing the people standing there and seeing the buses," Elmarzouky said. "It is so overwhelming and giving me the courage to continue to do it year after year after year."

Elmarzouky said fortunate now, but he knows what it's like to go without life's necessities, so feeding hundreds is how he plays his part in taking a little stress off of a lot of people.

Reichardt said the event helps, but has her own message.

"Hang in there keep up the good work, keep going," she said.

Organizers said they hope the event encourages more businesses and organizations step up to help even more people.

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