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Blessed and filled: Christmas dinner feeds hundreds on Sunday

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Guests eat, mingle and wait in line Sunday during the 15th annual Community Christmas Dinner at Victory Lutheran Church. Tom LaVenture / The Sun2 / 3
A volunteer places turkey on the plate of a guest Sunday during the 15th annual Community Christmas Dinner at Victory Lutheran Church. Tom LaVenture / The Sun3 / 3

Organizers said the lines stayed steady all through Sunday’s Community Christmas Dinner at Victory Lutheran Church in Jamestown.

The 15th annual event served approximately 550 meals with about 150 of them delivered to shut-in residents, said Eunice Sahr, a church volunteer immediately following the event. Volunteers prepared 30 turkeys and all the fixings for the dinner.

Jerry Junker, a Jamestown resident who came with others to the event, said to him the free Christmas dinner could be described in one word: fellowship.

“They are friendly folks here and they put on a great meal and they welcome you in,” Junker said.

People are being blessed and stomachs are being filled, said the Rev. Shawn Bowman, senior pastor of Victory Lutheran.

“The Christmas spirit is here,” Bowman said. “That’s what we wanted and we’re thankful that people are coming out and getting blessed and we pray that they leave with the spirit of God’s love in their heart.”

Dottie Brown, a volunteer for the past two years, said the event is a really a good thing.

“To me, it’s just where family can get together and have a Christmas meal and it’s put on for a good cause,” Brown said.

Ervin Sahr, who leads the cooking team, said any leftovers would go to Daily Bread-Jamestown, a non-profit organization that takes food prepared by certified kitchens to freeze for charitable distribution along with fresh produce and vegetables.

“So it goes to another good cause,” Sahr said.

For the first time, members of the University of Jamestown women’s wrestling team volunteered to help out at the Christmas dinner. Several of the team made the sure the dessert table stayed filled and they kept the tables cleaned.

“I think everyone is helping out and happy and just cherishing this joyful moment,” said Jacqueline Parks, a UJ freshman from Michigan who is a member of the wrestling team.

Diana Lopez, a UJ junior from Houston, said the team’s help is also a way to expose the team to Jamestown. The hope is that more local residents will attend the NAIA Women’s Wrestling Invitational, to be hosted at UJ on March 15-16.

“We love supporting our community and helping others,” Lopez said. “We are also hopeful that people will come support us in March.”

The Community Christmas Dinner is largely supported by turkey and other material donations along with a $1,500 budget for the trimmings of corn, green beans, potatoes, dinner rolls, cornbread, stuffing, pickles, black olives and cranberries, said Kris Meidinger, coordinator of the Community Christmas Dinner. Church members donate the desserts, she said.