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Archive for Saturday, December 26, 2009

Storm complicates holiday meal

Volunteers Joleen Bechtel, left, and Jane Garvin help box up meals Friday at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt. More than 600 such meals were to be delivered to area residents for Christmas.

Volunteers Joleen Bechtel, left, and Jane Garvin help box up meals Friday at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt. More than 600 such meals were to be delivered to area residents for Christmas.

December 26, 2009

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While meals were headed out to those who couldn't make it in, other volunteers like Phyllis Hubbard, center front, serve up a plate full of food for those who made it to First United Methodist Church to enjoy the annual meal.

While meals were headed out to those who couldn't make it in, other volunteers like Phyllis Hubbard, center front, serve up a plate full of food for those who made it to First United Methodist Church to enjoy the annual meal.

More than six inches of snow from Thursday night’s winter storm couldn’t keep the holiday spirit from coming out Friday.

Volunteers bustled about First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt., helping to prepare, dish and deliver Christmas Day meals to those in need. Dedicated committee members running the free meal program had a little extra stress to deal with this time around.

“It’s been an irregular day,” said Brower Burchill, who’s been helping with the program for 16 years. “Normally it runs slick as a whip.”

Burchill said because of poor driving conditions, food deliveries to the church had been running behind schedule, which in turn had thrown the rest of the day’s activities a little off.

Phyllis Hubbard, another committee member, sat with Burchill at one of the church’s many festively decorated tables to grab a bite to eat in between fulfilling duties. Hubbard, who has also worked the Christmas Day dinner for the past 16 years, said she couldn’t believe the weather.

“We’ve never had a winter like this,” Hubbard said.

The inclement weather didn’t just delay the food. Volunteers and dinner guests were also in short supply. The dining room inside the church had more empty seats than usual and the 30 to 40 volunteers were kept busy. Burchill said the Christmas dinner typically served about 900 people, but the snow had changed the day’s dynamic somewhat.

“I think we have a few more out in the community and a few less here in the church,” Burchill said. “It’s just been difficult for people to get here.”

Volunteer delivery drivers shouldered much of the holiday load, attempting to transport more than 600 boxed meals. The undertaking was proving to be a daunting task, but volunteers were determined. Deb Engstrom, another longtime committee member, shuffled through stacks of orders and addresses, matching similar locations for more efficient delivery runs.

“We’re short a lot of drivers, but we’re chipping away at it,” Engstrom said.

Back in the dining room, Eric Fabert sat at a table alone, finishing his food and sipping his drink. Fabert, who has spent time off and on in Lawrence after attending high school in the Shawnee Mission district, said he had been attending the dinner for four years after falling on hard times.

“The food is good,” Fabert said. “(Lawrence) is pretty much the only place where you can still find a breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

The volunteer crews worked with smiles on their faces, collecting dirty plates and even offering second helpings to hungry guests.

“Our motivation is the people,” Hubbard said. “It’s making people feel good.”

Burchill smiled and nodded, “I’d say that’s a very good answer.”

Comments

Clare Galloway 5 years ago

Thank You--i was in a bind today and you all really helped out. My family would not have had christmas dinner if it weren't for you all and the food was really good, we had plans to go to a family members for dinner so i had to work last night and of course the dinner was cancelled when i looked in my fridge-hot dogs and a few potatoes, my kids were starving of course by mid morning so i was in tears at what i could do to feed my family because i sure wasn't getting out to go look for food today-then i recalled seeing that you all can deliver so Thank You, you guys saved the day, Thanks again

Melanie Birge 5 years ago

Let us all remember to pay it foward!

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

Thanks to all the workers out there. I'm sure they would like to spend Christmas at home with their families but they gave of themselves to help others. The Lord helps those who help each other. Yes, pay it forward!

Deb Engstrom 5 years ago

I can't say enough about the hardy group of volunteer drivers that braved the elements and snow drifts to deliver approximately 600 meals throughout the community. It was amazing!!

Deb

jackpot 5 years ago

We had the meal it was great. Thanks to all that helped. The driver that came to here was super. Thanks again to all that helped.

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