By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
One big smiling face will be missing from Fulton’s Community Christmas Dinner this year. Dickey Bullers, who has served as the cook at the annual gathering for 16 years, died in a bicycle accident in August.
“It’s all in memory of Dickey this year,” Chairman Barb Suehl-Janis said. “We will have a banner up to commemorate him.”
The 28th annual dinner will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Day at the Fulton Fire Department. With Dickey gone, his son Sean will step in to fill the void. Sean is no stranger to the dinner, as he has helped his father cook since he was just 10 years old.
“It will be terrible to not have Dickey’s big smile all day long, but Sean has learned well from his father and will do a great job,” Suehl-Janis said.
Besides Suehl-Janis and the Bullers family, many volunteers and donors contribute to the event in a variety of ways. Committee members include Bill and Betty Abbott, Wayne Meurs, Roger Johnson, Gregory Weets and Leonard Janis. More than 20 volunteers help prepare, serve and deliver the meals each year.
About 300 people are served at the dinner and 120 receive delivered meals, including the YWCA Crisis Center and the Victory Center. Firefighters and volunteers deliver meals to Fulton, Clinton, Albany, Thomson and Camanche. Those who are homebound and would like a meal delivered can call (815) 589-3030.
Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, dressing and more are provided by generous donations from local businesses. Exelon donated $1,500 to fund most of the dinner. Fulton Meat Market, Sweetheart Bakery and Eagle River Liquor also provide donations of food and drinks.
“At the end of the year we usually break even, but there is no way we could do this without all the donations,” Suehl-Janis said.
Desserts are provided by donations from the community. Those wishing to help out can drop off treats at the fire station between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today and starting at 6:30 a.m. Christmas Day.
Whether they are lonely, down on their luck or unable to prepare their own meal, all are welcome at the festive feast.