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Teen spends every Christmas serving the hungry

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Seven years ago, Molly Cox’s parents began the family tradition of serving dinner to clients at Christ House in Alexandria on Christmas Day. The experience has made one of Cox’s favorite holidays even more special, and opened her heart to service opportunities.

“(I realized) this is something I really like and enjoy, and should be doing more often,” she said.

Each year, the family, parishioners of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Vienna, arrives early to set up at the transitional shelter and soup kitchen. Cox, her mom and her sister greet guests in the waiting room and hand out appetizers, while her father and brother work in the dining room. Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who also serves at the holiday dinners, prays over the meal.

Oftentimes, they’ll recognize familiar faces, and the guests will remember them, too. “They are the queens and kings for the day and we treat them (like that) to the best of our abilities,” she said.

At Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Cox, a senior, has had more opportunities to serve as a peer mentor in the school’s Options program for special needs students. Through campus ministry, she visited the diocesan mission in Bánica, where students helped build a house for a family of six, painted a chapel and made a gazebo. “It was very humbling,” she said.

After the trip, a classmate decided to start an all-girls service club at Paul VI, which Cox joined. Recently, they visited an assisted living facility to speak with the residents and give them cookies.

Service, “has definitely made me closer to God,” said Cox. “When you serve the people of God, He rewards you in infinite ways and He’s rewarded me in the experiences that I get to have with the people I serve with and the people I serve for. I always get something new out of it.”

In the midst of gift shopping and holiday parties, Cox is looking forward to just one thing —  serving at Christ House. “It's the best thing,” she said. “It’s the highlight of my Christmas every year.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016