CLINTON — An area congregation is working to provide a Christmas dinner to those without anyone to spend the holiday.
St. Paul Lutheran Church, 715 S. Third St., will host its 31st Christmas dinner from noon to 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. Organizers from the church are planning for the event that is expected to serve at least 200 people.
Tuesday morning, Roberta Gee, Jean Grager, Ardena Zirbes and John and Ellyne Obermiller met to plan the annual dinner. The committee reviewed what donations the dinner received and which volunteers have signed up. The group spends many hours planning the dinner.
"We pretty much work on it all year long," Gee said.
John designed a chart for congregation and community members to sign up to volunteer. He has been heading up the kitchen for several years, cooking the meat and other dishes.
The meal includes an assortment of food, including turkey, ham, a variety of salads and desserts. Most of the food is donated by members of the congregation, with the treats, napkins and a few other items coming from outside resources and area businesses.
Throughout the 31 years, the dinner has grown. Last year, John had at least 20 people helping in the kitchen. This allowed him more time with each dish, instead of having to do everything himself.
"Last year was marvelous," Gee said.
Gee said they served almost 200 people at the dinner, not including carry-outs and the volunteers themselves. John said they never know how many people will attend.
Though a lot of work, the committee enjoys working on the dinner. Grager said it is great to help others in the community.
"Because we want people to go (to the dinner) when they will have no place to be," Zirbes said. "Because that's what Christmas is all about.
Anyone wanting to share a Christmas meal can show up at the church between noon and 2 p.m. at the church. The church is handicap accessible, with an elevator available to the public.
Carry-out orders and deliveries to those who are homebound also are available and transportation to the church can be arranged. For any of these services, people should make early reservations by calling 242-4102 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the weekdays.
The organizing committee also is looking for more volunteers for both this year and next. Gee, Zirbes and the Obermillers are all considering retiring from the dinner after this season. John said he would like to be able to spend the holiday with some of his children and grandchildren, who live out of state.
For more information about the annual dinner, read about volunteer Jean Grager in today's At Random on page 1D.