Residents celebrate Christmas a little early at annual dinnerA free meal attracted hundreds of area residents Sunday, and some of them weren’t there for the food. Bill Walsh grew up in Jamestown, moved to Colorado for 20 years and then returned to his hometown in September, re-establishing residency. He doesn’t have a home parish, but read about Victory Lutheran Brethren Church’s Christmas Dinner and decided to get involved.
By: Katie Ryan, The Jamestown Sun
A free meal attracted hundreds of area residents Sunday, and some of them weren’t there for the food.
Bill Walsh grew up in Jamestown, moved to Colorado for 20 years and then returned to his hometown in September, re-establishing residency. He doesn’t have a home parish, but read about Victory Lutheran Brethren Church’s Christmas Dinner and decided to get involved.
“I started thinking, what could I do to help?” he said after cleaning up and tearing down tables Sunday.
Victory Lutheran’s Christmas Dinner has served a free meal to area residents for six years. The goal is to provide food and fellowship to anyone in the community, especially the lonely. The Christmas dinner gives individuals, families, seniors and students somewhere to celebrate the holiday.
Not everyone has family and friends within traveling distance, said Kris Meidinger, organizer. Some, like one couple she met who’d said they were in their 90s, said the dinner at Victory Lutheran would suffice as their Christmas this year. The couple had told Meidinger they had no surviving relatives but cousins, so they chose to celebrate the birth of Christ a little early, but with more company this year.
Those stories are the most rewarding, Meidinger said.
“There are people that this is their Christmas meal and this really is a blessing for them,” said Bernice Lusby. Lusby volunteers to wash dishes at the dinner every year.
That’s true for Jamestown resident Hilda Lang who said she’ll be spending Dec. 25 with her cat and dog this year. She enjoys their company, but animals just aren’t the same as family and friends, she said.
“I can’t talk to them (her pets), they don’t talk back,” she said.
Lang attended the dinner with three girlfriends, Ethel Yetterboe, Lynn Kylmanen and Alice Carlson.
The ladies agreed. The turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy tasted great. But they came for the company too.
“It’s not the meal, it’s the people,” Lang said.
And while the dinner ran out of cranberry sauce, of people, it did not.
On Sunday, 285 people consumed the 20 turkeys, 8 gallons of green beans and 10 turkey roasters of potatoes at the church, Meidinger said. An additional 178 received delivered meals at their homes.
The dinner is about serving, the Rev. Shawn Bowman had said. Bowman is the senior pastor at Victory Lutheran. It’s about serving food and serving the community.
“We want to spread Christmas cheer and love and today, that happened,” Bowman said.
For Walsh, spreading Christmas cheer at Victory Lutheran’s Christmas dinner is something he may consider again next year.
“I think it’s a great event, a great offering to the public,” he said.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com