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Archive for Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas dinner at First United Methodist Church feeds more than appetites

December 26, 2010

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Harriett Bannister, Lawrence, assists her son Evan, 6, in serving up mashed potatoes at the Lawrence Community Christmas dinner at First United Methodist Church. The two were among hundreds of volunteers for the annual dinner.

Harriett Bannister, Lawrence, assists her son Evan, 6, in serving up mashed potatoes at the Lawrence Community Christmas dinner at First United Methodist Church. The two were among hundreds of volunteers for the annual dinner.

J.R. Demby, left, and his daughter Rianon Wallace-Demby pick up 18 Christmas meals to deliver to North Lawrence residents. The two were picking the meals up during the Lawrence Community Christmas dinner at First United Methodist Church.

J.R. Demby, left, and his daughter Rianon Wallace-Demby pick up 18 Christmas meals to deliver to North Lawrence residents. The two were picking the meals up during the Lawrence Community Christmas dinner at First United Methodist Church.

Bob Taylor, Mary Louise Taylor and Grace Oshel visit over the Christmas dinner at First United Methodist Church on Saturday.

Bob Taylor, Mary Louise Taylor and Grace Oshel visit over the Christmas dinner at First United Methodist Church on Saturday.

Hundreds of volunteers showed up at First United Methodist Church Saturday morning in order to make sure Christmas dinner was available to all. Some worked behind the scenes, packed in the kitchen, sweating, rushing to finish stuffing and corn for the hungry visitors. Others were dishing up to-go meals, loading them in boxes and delivering them to those who couldn’t make it.

Without volunteers, the free Christmas dinner would not be possible. The church has served as a host for the dinner for 16 years now.

Deb Engstrom has been a volunteer helping organize the dinner since the beginning. She said volunteers usually serve around 1,000 meals, both delivery and on-site. Close to 600 deliveries were scheduled for this year. With so many meals, Engstrom was glad to see that members of the community could donate time and money to help make it possible.

“We rely on the generosity of the Lawrence community to make this work,” Engstrom said.

Bigg’s Barbecue helped cook 55 20-pound turkeys for the dinner. Maceli’s added 45 hams and provided its kitchen to volunteers peeling potatoes and preparing other food. Engstrom said volunteers started showing up to cook around 6 a.m.

For her, helping with the dinner is what made Christmas.

“What makes this unique is all the facets of the community coming together,” Engstrom said. “We have families, retired people, homeless, people who are alone and everyone else you can think of here together.”

Les Hannon and his wife, Pat, have been helping deliver dinners for 15 years. Les, who is retired, said the dinner and the fact that they are involved in the community is what makes Christmas fun.

“At home we’d be reading or watching TV,” Hannon said. “Helping out makes us feel like we’re not on our own.”

For John Olson and his family, this was their first time helping with the dinner. Olson said the family realized it was a tough year for many and decided it would be a good year to give a hand and give back.

“In a small way we feel like we are helping — at least with our time and our labor,” Olson said.

The family spent the morning pulling apart turkey to separate the light meat from the dark, and preparing corn and stuffing. Olson said figuring out where to find utensils and working as a team was part of the fun.

One of his daughters, Noelle, a 10th-grader at Free State High School, said she learned you don’t have to use a knife to carve turkey. Noelle, who would have otherwise been at home sitting around watching movies, said she did not see volunteering as giving up her holiday; in fact, she saw it as making it better.

“I feel like a lot of people have forgotten the meaning and the message behind Christmas, and I feel like this can help bring that meaning back,” Noelle said.

Thanks to Noelle and her family and the hundreds of other volunteers, residents like Eddy Guge were able to enjoy a Christmas dinner like everyone else. Guge said it was his first time at the dinner. He said the generosity and effort behind the dinner really encompasses the Christmas message of sharing and giving.

“I wouldn’t have any other place to eat if it wasn’t for this,” he said. “It just proves that there are people out there that care.”

Comments

redmoonrising 3 years, 10 months ago

I wonder why though the dinner was delivered so late? Ours was after 3 PM and we had already given up on it by then. The weather wasn't bad like last year. When it did get there, it was cold and there was jellied cranberry sauce melted over the potatoes, gravy and stuffing. Not very appetizing! We gave up waiting for our meals at around 2 because we were all so hungry. That's the first time I had cheese and crackers for Christmas dinner. We are two very elderly and one disabled adult. Still, kudos to those who provide time and effort to provide these meals to so many people.

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jackpot 3 years, 10 months ago

My dinners came the people bringing them said they were in line 2 hours just filling them. They said 750 were being delivered. Thanks to all the volunteers. The meals were great.

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black_butterfly 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow. I can't belive that someone is complaining about having a complimentary meal delivered what THEY consider late. People sacrificed time that they could have been spending with their own families to deliver the meals. Maybe you should give up internet service, or if the service is free, maybe sell your PC and be able to afford your own Christmas dinner next year, or next year go to the site for the meal and not have to wait so long. Peace and Blessings.

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Pete_Schweti 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't know why this surprises you. Happens all the time.

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redmoonrising 3 years, 10 months ago

Well, we always donate at least $5 per dinner when they are delivered. Andsince none of us reallly cook any longer, we do appreciate the fact that people do devote time on Christmas Day to give to others. A lot of them bring their kiids to teach them the joy of giving as well. So I thank you and Wilbur for your efforts on our behalf. We can afford the food, we just can't always get out to buy it or fix it. I hope you never find yourself in this position. And while I'm here, thanks also to the wonderful people who deliver Meals on Wheels so the two 90+-year-olds do get a good meal at least once a day. And yes, they donate for those as well.

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Kent Shrack 3 years, 10 months ago

Under one of the pictures it states,,,, Delivering to "North" Lawrence, How about , we all live in Lawrence, Do we really need to point out North Lawrence?

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LadyWolf 3 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the history lesson. I had never heard this and think it is very interesting. I love stuff like this that gives our city more personality. I live in East Lawrence and am so happy that I learn new history lessons all the time. Since I no longer live in my beloved birth state, my theory is that I should learn all I can about my adopted home, thus making it more "homey".

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Kent Shrack 3 years, 10 months ago

I feel they were calling out the economic differences between North Lawrence and Lawrence. It had nothing to do with their history. Did you say,, it has been part of Lawrence since 1870? I’m old but I don’t remember when it was North Lawrence. . Thank you for the history lesson. It had absolutely nothing to do with what I was talking about, but maybe it meant something to you.

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HomeSlice 3 years, 10 months ago

Hat's off to those that worked so hard this holiday, and work through out the year to support this outreach.

Nice to see the Christian ethic in practice.

Thanks for providing the positive example to those that would discount God and His message, and the purpose and mission of the often maligned 'organized religion'.

The nay sayers didn't bother to show up - sad that they missed the smiles and quiet appreciation of those served. The Good News is that tomorrow brings a new opportunity - don't miss it.

Hard to say who was more blessed - those who were served or those of us with the privilege of taking part by volunteering. Discover the answer by showing your support. You will be amazed by the outcome that changes everything. Test it if you have any doubt.

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