Christmas dinner helps residents share blessings

? Two years ago Calvin Crossley lost his job. The children and grandchildren had all moved away. However, instead of focusing on the negative, Crossley and his wife, Sheri Caldwell-Crossley, decided to focus on their blessings.

As a result, they not only focused on their blessings, but decided to share them as well. With the help of Baldwin City’s American Legion post, the Amazing Grace Community Church and generous residents, the family organized a community Christmas dinner.

“There are always people less fortunate on Christmas or who don’t have anyone to share the day with,” Caldwell-Crossley said. “I would love to be able to take care of everyone if I could.”

Caldwell-Crossley may not be able to reach everyone, but she definitely reaches the community of Baldwin City. The dinner is now in its third year. With the help of volunteers, the family usually serves anywhere from 100 to 150 residents.

Crossley cooks the meat, and daughter Brooke helps prepare salads and desserts. Other members of the community donate as well. Crossley said he cooked 10 turkeys, 4 hams and 60 pounds of ground beef to be used as meatloaf for the dinner.

“We see a lot of people struggle and we know that times have been hard, so we just try to help out how we can,” Crossley said.

Brooke, who prepared 12 dozen cookies, 2 pounds of brownies and several bowls of puppy chow, said what she enjoys most is just being able to help someone in need. After all, she said giving back, being thankful and providing for others represent the meaning behind Christmas.

“Who knows, maybe we can provide a meal to someone who wouldn’t be able to prepare one themselves, or save somebody some money so they can buy their child an extra gift,” Brooke said.

Gregg Myer and his five young children have been to every dinner. He said the dinner is a way for him and his children to get out of the house, get a change of scenery and spend time with other members of the community.

“We get to see and talk to people of all ages and different walks of life that come together as a community,” Myer said.

Selena Gillespie, a helper at the dinner, said she did not feel like she was giving up her Christmas at all to volunteer.

“This is our family,” Gillespie said. “This is our Christmas. Sharing and opening the doors to any and everybody is what Christmas is all about.”