Sarah Bryan of Fort Calhoun planned to have a cookie exchange party for neighbors and friends. But it evolved into something much bigger.
"I thought, what if we could make it more of a service project and actually make a difference," she said, "make an impact on some people that maybe may not feel so loved during the holiday season."
She got in touch with the Open Door Mission's President and CEO, Candace Gregory, and learned just how much help they need. "We serve 2,000 meals every day," said Gregory.
"That killed me," said Bryan. "I couldn't believe there were so many people (locally) that needed something so fundamental as food."
With around 700 men, women and children expected for Christmas Eve dinner alone, Bryan got to work, enlisting the help of friends and neighbors to bake as many goodies as they could. The goal was to have at least one homemade treat for every shelter guest.
"That is such a treat here at the open door mission. Not only do we not get a lot of meat donated. We don't get a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but homemade goods are slim and far between," said Gregory.
As Bryan and her two young children, five and two, put sprinkles on sugar cookies, she hoped what they were doing would be the start of a meaningful tradition. When they're older, she'd like to take them to the Open Door Mission to serve meals.
She's trying to stress an important message: "Christmas is not about the presents. It's not about what I can I get. Its about what can we give this time of year," she said.
"This is an opportunity for them to see they've got it really, really good, and there's even something they can do to just give a cookie."
With the help of friends, the family was able to deliver enough treats Sunday, that every single person at the shelter would have one as part of their Christmas Eve dinner.