For a crowd that could reach as high as 2,500 people, it’s expected that some of them won’t speak the language.
So, 11 Spanish-speaking translators will be on hand for today’s “December First Saturday” at St. Luke United Methodist Church. This is the 12th annual outreach. Anyone who needs shoes, toys, a warm sweatshirt, hot breakfast — along with a spiritual message and visit from Santa — can receive them free.
“I love it. When I’m finished, I’m wiped out,” said the Rev. Ivelisse Quinones, who leads the church’s Hispanic ministry. “I love to see the people coming.”
The church has had Spanish-speaking translators on hand for the past few years, but this year will contain the highest number of them.
Guests will enter through the main sanctuary doors on Second Avenue. The Rev. Hal Brady, the senior pastor, will give a brief message there, then the people will be ushered into Stockwell Hall for a full Southern breakfast. Once finished, guests can walk across Third Avenue to the ministry center where they’ll be allowed to select the free items.
Not everyone comes through at once. Groups are staggered throughout the morning, for crowd control.
Though translators will be stationed in each area, Quinones said the shoe department is where translators are the most needed. Sizes don’t always translate from this country to another, for instance, and people have to try them on.
For some, coming to the event itself creates timidity and shyness, and especially for those who don’t speak English. “Many feel more comfortable in their own surroundings and in their own groups,” said Quinones, who helps lead the weekly Spanish service at 12:30 p.m. Sundays, in the St. Luke chapel. The translators help put them at ease.
Prior to today’s event, fliers have been put up around local Spanish grocery stores and markets, she said.