What started as a nice way to help others has turned into a holiday tradition that's been going on for about 24 years.
DeeDee Koenen, co-owner of Pop Cycle, decided she wanted to help those less fortunate by collecting warm clothing and making food bags to hand out to homeless people on Christmas Eve.
Originally, it was just Koenen's immediate family and friends helping out.
"Back then nobody was really doing it and it seemed like we had so much and there were so many with so little, so we got together, my family and friends and just made a bunch of food and got a bunch of clothing and took it out," Koenen said.
Now, every year, more than 30 people show up at the Surly Wench parking lot to help sort clothes, make sandwiches and then distribute the items at local parks on the morning of Christmas Eve.
"It used to be only about 15, but when we started doing the store (Pop Cycle), we invited artists and employees," Koenen said. "It's kinda nice because it's grown exponentially with the amount of people we have contact with in our community."
Anita Goodrich, a childhood friend of Koenen, has been part of this since the beginning.
"I feel like it kind of encompasses everything," Goodrich said. "It's the holidays. It feels like you should do something. At the same time it's super practical."
Now, the tradition includes her 11-year-old son, who's been going since he was born.
He helps hand out stuff and pours coffee, whatever they need help with, Goodrich said.
"I feel like it takes the fear out of seeing a homeless person and he understands that being homeless isn't some infliction that a person has. It's just a situation that they're in that is unfortunate," Goodrich said. "But, they're still a person. They still need to be loved and cared for and are still important. They're still part of our community. He doesn't cringe or flinch because somebody is dirty or doesn't look like him."
Koenen is taking donations of warm clothing, blankets, scarves, gloves and anything to help keep people warm, Koenen said.
And, anybody is welcome to show up on the morning of Christmas Eve to help.
"It's a mixture of people," Goodrich said. "It's kinda fun, actually. Instantaneously on that day, whether you know those people or not, you're laughing, talking and having a good time. And it feels good."
How to help
There are a couple ways to help:
1. You can donate clothing, blankets or snack items
2. Show up and help sort and distribute.
If you plan on helping on Christmas Eve, head over to the Surly Wench parking lot at 424 N. Fourth Ave., at 10 a.m. Koenen will put you to work either sorting clothing or making sandwiches.