The cafeteria at Davis Life Care Center-West was standing room only Wednesday as residents, staff and guests packed the festive room — decorated in traditional red and white for the holidays — to enjoy their 2011 Christmas party.

The cafeteria at Davis Life Care Center-West was standing room only Wednesday as residents, staff and guests packed the festive room — decorated in traditional red and white for the holidays — to enjoy their 2011 Christmas party.

“I just came to get a cup of coffee,” said resident, Eber Alexander Griffin, “but I can’t get through the door!”

Inside the room, special entertainment was being provided by members of the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, which included a rendition of “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” sang by Tina Blair, who received a round of applause.

A children’s choir, made up of some youth from the church, was another surprise. Smiles lit the faces of those attending the party as they listened to the talented young people.

“It’s great having the little ones here,” resident Sheila Yarbro said.

The Rev. Gabriel Jackson is pastor at Mt. Olive.

“This party is an exceptional thing,” he said.

“It’s our goal to help spread love to these people, especially the ones without family … and not only on Christmas, but all through the year,” Jackson said, adding, “We also try to get all our young people active in this type of activity.”

Mt. Olive members Cleovis Whiteside and his wife, Arwilda, are tireless volunteers who share their gifts of time and love whenever and wherever they can.

Arwilda Whiteside said there was a special reason she spends time at Davis.

“This is so important … I’m out here all the time. I just put myself in their place. One day I might be out here and I’ll want somebody to visit me!” she said.

Her husband agreed.

“We like to come out here to help the residents with the Christmas spirit,” Cleovis Whiteside said, “and members of our church and other folks provide gifts for everybody … like sweatsuits, bottoms and tops.”

The Whitesides’ daughter, Kathy Sims, a registered nurse at Baptist Health in Little Rock, has an aunt at Davis. There’s also another “member of the family” in residence there.

William “Dick” Sydnor was homeless at a center run by Sims’ uncle in Littlerock, Calif., who later moved to St. Louis and brought along three people — including Sydnor — who’d spent time at his center. When her uncle died and the other two could not care for their ailing friend, Sims said, she brought Sydnor to Davis.

Another of the three, she said, “is with me.” Sims said efforts were being made to find Sydnor’s family, who may be in any of several states, including Texas, California or Utah.

The residents, several of whom were decked out in holiday colors, seemed to enjoy the occasion. Eddie Brunson was all smiles as his daughter, Tomeica Owens, sat by his side.

“We’re having a good time … I come visit a lot,” she said.