By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Likita Smith beamed as she stared at her children, nieces and nephews perched on Santa's lap on Monday. The family was full with turkey, stuffing, potatoes and other holiday meal staples and had a bag of toys to complete their Christmas Eve.
“Seeing their smiles just makes it all,” Smith said.
The 32-year-old Clinton resident was one of nearly 100 people who went to Corner Deli on Monday for the fourth annual Christmas Eve meal the business partners with Information, Referral and Assistance Services to present. The toys are donated by Nestlé Purina.
Smith, who moved to Clinton three years ago, brought her sons Raymond, 3, and Jacod, seven months. Her sister, 3-year-old niece and 9-year-old nephew also came.
“It gives us family time,” Smith said. “I thought it would be something nice for the kids.”
Corner Deli employees and volunteers served the free food and drink.
“It makes you warm and fuzzy,” Corner Deli employee Hollie Skoff said of the event. “It’s for a good cause.”
All attendees got a free meal, a visit from Santa and those with children got to pick presents. Above all, they were able to enjoy other people’s company.
Kathy Moon, who came with her family, said if it weren’t for the meal, they would be sitting at home: “It brings us closer together. We just thank the Lord for being here." For Executive Director of Information, Referral and Assistance Services Regan Michaelsen, the event is a chance for her organization to brighten and lift spirits during the holidays.
“It’s great,” Michaelsen said. “Most of these people wouldn’t have a Christmas and they’re going to leave with a meal, a smile and a toy. And they don’t have to be alone for Christmas.”