The words food and fellowship are heard often around the fellowship hall of Victory Lutheran Church in Jamestown during its annual Christmas Dinner.

"It is great," said Marcene Veil, one of the people enjoying the meal. "I get to visit with a lot of people. I like the fellowship."

Dwight Schmidt, chairman of the congregation, said those are the goals of the gathering.

"Christmas is that time of year," he said. "We try to bring joy and happiness to the community."

Bringing joy, happiness and turkey with all the trimmings takes a little planning and preparation, said Kris Meidinger, organizer of the event.

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"We plan for 600 people," she said. "That involves cooking 30 turkeys, 16 gallons of green beans, 12 gallons of corn and all the other things that go into a holiday meal."

The reward for all that work comes quickly, Meidinger said.

"It is great to help people who wouldn't have this kind of meal for the holiday," she said. "It helps spread the word of Jesus."

Home delivered meals bring a special sense of gratitude to the volunteers.

"The ones we deliver to are so happy to see us," Meidinger said. "Some try to give us a dollar or two but we are just happy to bring people the food."

The service line in the church fellowship hall and the home deliveries started at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. By 1 p.m., volunteers had delivered more than 236 meals and had about 300 people go through the line at the church.

Even with more than 500 already served, the line extended beyond the fellowship hall and into the hallway.

Serving that many meals in that short a time takes people. There were an estimated 35 to 40 volunteers working at the church Sunday. Additional volunteer hours went into preparing the food in the days prior to the meal and others were on standby to handle the cleanup chores after all were served.

"Volunteers make it happen," Schmidt said. "Not just within our church but some from places like the UJ (University of Jamestown) volleyball team and others within the community."

The effort was appreciated.

"I've never seen a meal like this, or this big a crowd," said Gerald VanBruggen, one of the people enjoying the food at the fellowship hall. "It is a nice start to Christmas."