NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - People filed into Elijah's Promise throughout Saturday afternoon, bringing with them jackets, socks, hats and other items to be distributed to those who call the cold city nights their home.
They came to drop the items off, but stayed for the music, hot chocolate, scones and some holiday cheer as Elijah's Promise held its first Winter Coffeehouse event.
Suzy Jivotovski, the urban agriculture manager at Elijah's Promise, said this was a day for this always busy community kitchen on Neilson Street that serves more than 100,000 meals a year to throw open its doors and welcome everyone inside.
"We run this kitchen 365 days a year," she said. "We have set meal times and we usually have our nose to the grindstone with the day to day of making that happen. It takes a lot of time from our staff to our volunteers to our clients we work with to make that happen. To set a side a special time to invite everybody that matters to us and invite them to our doors is very important to us.
"To me, the holidays are a time of reflection and seasonally, things are little more still and quiet."
Jivotovski also helped coordinate the music that filled Elijah's Promise.
Alex Winshel of 81 Rich, a New Brunswick-based band, played a bluesy acoustic set.
He was followed by Tina Webb and Vince Rafici. Webb belted out traditional Christmas standards, accompanied by Rafici's keyboards. The musical portion of the event was topped off by some karaoke and some singalongs.
The Winter Coffeehouse event also tied in one of Elijah's Promise's most popular programs. Many of the tasty treats - cranberry-orange scones, ginger cookies, apple tarts and some banana nut bread - were created by the culinary school that graduated Friday.
There were tree ornament-making crafts for the little ones, lots of coffee for the adults and gingerbred house building for children of all ages.
Michelle Wilson, executive director at Elijah's Promise, said they collected dozens of winter clothing items thanks to the generosity of people from the community.
They were like Morgan Brody, a Middlesex County College student from East Brunswick who came to drop off a jacket.
"I had it hanging in my closet," she said. "I figured I would donate it because I'm sure that someone could really use it."