The holiday season is a time of joy for many. For those operating food pantries, a part of that joy comes from helping others find the basic necessities to have a memorable holiday experience. For Grand Central Station in Sherman, the season is about more than food.

The soup kitchen is also looking to provide individuals in need with coats, scarves, gloves and hats this season.

“It is important to us to make sure everyone that comes to the soup kitchen feels especially this time of year,” Grand Central Station Executive Director Karen Bray said. “It can be a very distressing time of year for so many people. We are a family to so many of our neighbors. It is a time of the year when people need to be with family.”

The non-profit organization relies entirely on donations to operate because it does not receive state or federal funding. All of the programs and services it provides are made possible entirely by donations from within the community.

“It is fabulous how much we see an increase in donations,” Bray said. “This week alone, we had a local business that had a nationwide challenge to raise canned goods. This organization collected 2,000 cans to donate to a local food kitchen. We’re s grateful to the community for their support. We’re here to serve.”

The GCS provides a number of opportunities to help those in need. Its annual Thanksgiving meal will be prepared restaurant-style with individual orders taken and delivered. Its Christmas dinner, which is held days before Christmas on Dec. 14, is a children’s Christmas party, and kids will receive a gift along with a chance to meet Santa Claus while enjoying some cookies and punch.

Bray said the every day items are as important.

Current needs for the soup kitchen include flashlights, sleeping bags, tents, hats gloves and mittens. Household items include canned foods, including coffee, tea and plastic forks, spoons and knives. Trash cans and bags, cooking spray, sandwich bags, paper bags and the like are also important. Grooming items such as razors, deodorant, soaps and hand sanitizer are needed as well.

Bray said they are grateful for all donations, and because GCS is a partner with the North Texas Food Bank, the organization does have the ability to purchase larger quantity items such as gallons of corn and beans for much less than the cost of a couple smaller cans. She said cash donations are not necessary preferred, but the money stretches a little further in some cases. She welcomes the food donations, and there are other programs that work with GCS that can make use of the food, such as the Children’s Express which provides small bagged lunches for kids as an after school food program. That program is provided for students who are on the free or reduced lunch program at area schools.