Emily Tindall knows its important to eat your vegetables. So for the first 20 minutes of Easter dinner, the 7-year-old tried to focus on her green beans, picking at them with a fork.
It didnt take long, though, before the piece of sugar cream pie next to her dinner plate proved too tempting. She grabbed it. And while she quickly ate her ham and vegetables with one hand, she used the other one to hold the plastic container of pie – hug it actually – to her chest.
This is probably the best, she said, holding up a fork full of ham. But ... I love pie!
For the next several seconds, she stared at her parents, wagging her eyebrows and giving them a wild-eyed, sugar-hungry smile. It was pretty hard to resist. Go ahead, Emily. Eat the pie.
The Tindall family – Emily, her brother Evan, 10, parents Tamra and Mike and grandmother Donna Ray – were five of the more than 2,000 people expected Sunday at the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission for Easter dinner.
Surrounded by other diners, the family sat at a long table covered in a burgundy cloth and dotted with baskets of white and purple flowers.
On the far side of the room, Rescue Mission employees and volunteers sang Amazing Grace while serving ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls and green beans.
Im so hungry, Ive got two forks, Mike Tindall said. How did that happen?
Dad, Ill give you a bite of apple pie, Evan said. And you give me some of your cream pie.
Deal, Mike said.
Currently, the Tindalls are living in a motel, a welcome change from the transient life theyve shared for the past couple of years.
Mike was recently hired at Ellison Bakery. Although his hourly $7.25 wage is small for four people, the family is slowly saving money to rent a larger home.
The motel is inexpensive – $450 a month, no deposit and plenty of clean towels – but its small, Tamra said.
Were not complaining, she said Weve got a roof over our heads and at least the family is together.
I always kept the faith, Mike said. Gods doing great things for our lives right now.
This year, the Rescue Mission has seen an increase in families such as the Tindalls, food service manager Chris Richardson said.
You used to see men out of work and single moms, he said. Now, youre seeing a lot of nuclear families – moms, dads and kids. Were not feeding people who dont have jobs. Were feeding people who are underemployed and not making enough to pay for gas and utilities.
On Thanksgiving last year, more than 200 volunteers helped serve food to the missions diners.
On Sunday, only 60 people served, volunteer coordinator Lynne Isenbarger said. Among them were Steve and Angela Miller and their sons Teeghun, 6, and Tanner, 4, who were passing out bread and butter.
My wife and I have served before, Steve Miller said. This is the first year weve included the boys. We figured they were old enough to get into it this year.
In an effort to avoid bickering, the two boys took turns passing out the rolls – the more coveted of the two jobs, they said. It was fun, but they also wanted to go home and eat Easter candy, Teeghun said.
Do you think the Easter Bunny came to their houses, Angela asked him, nodding toward the room of diners.
Teeghun shook his head no.
Do you see how lucky you are?
Yes, he said.
Thats exactly what we wanted you to see, Angela said, smiling. Dont worry. The candy will still be there when we get home.