Community Christmas Dinner serves about 750 in Jamestown on Sunday
The free meal was distributed on Sunday, Dec. 18, by volunteers at Victory Lutheran Church.
JAMESTOWN – About 750 meals were served on Sunday, Dec. 18, at the 19th annual Community Christmas Dinner, said Kris Meidinger, director of the dinner.
There were 356 meals picked up through a drive-up process, 201 meals were delivered, 136 were served in Victory Lutheran Church and 52 meals were taken to others after the event, she said.
“We’re just glad that the community takes part in it and it’s a great thing to see when people enjoy the meal,” Meidinger said. “We just hope we’re spreading love and joy to people that need it because we sometimes forget that a lot of us have more than what we need but we forget that not everybody does. And we forget that people are grieving at Christmas time … so it’s just, it’s fun to see a community come together.”
This was the first time meals were served in the church in three years, Meidinger said. Meals were distributed by drive-up and delivery in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, a record 850 meals were served.
“It was really nice to see people in there (the church) again because then they visit,” Meidinger said. “… it just makes it better for those that are eating there because they like that fellowship. But the ones that can’t get it themselves do appreciate the home-delivered meals … the elderly and some that don’t have vehicles and things like that.”
The free meal consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, corn, green bean casserole, cranberries and dessert.
We do it just because we try to help people have a better Christmas because there’s always lonely people and people that can’t get out or people that can’t even afford it.
With more than 1,000 meals served during the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas dinner organizers planned for the possibility of a similar amount on Sunday. Meidinger said the weather might have been a factor in the number of meals served. The remaining cooked meals will be distributed to Daily Bread - Jamestown, and the nonperishable supplies not used will be donated to the Salvation Army’s food pantry, Meidinger said.
Sunday’s dinner was also the first time that it was served to those who ate at the church instead of people going through a food line, Meidinger said. That was primarily because of the need to keep the food line open to those who were filling the meals for deliveries and drive-up vehicles.
“It went really well, it was really efficient,” Meidinger said.
More than 75 volunteers helped with tasks that included cooking, dishing up the food, filling containers and plates in the food line, taking meals out to waiting vehicles, delivering meals and cleanup.
Heather Tomlin-Rohr was working her first Christmas dinner at the church on Sunday, bringing meals outside to people using the drive-up process.
“The people have just been so appreciative,” she said.
One woman who picked up a meal said she had cancer and couldn’t be around other people, Tomlin-Rohr said.
“I didn’t realize what a need this was for people in our community,” she said.
Meidinger said it’s important to have the annual meal.
“We do it just because we try to help people have a better Christmas because there’s always lonely people and people that can’t get out or people that can’t even afford it,” she said. “ … there was a family that drove up and she said they were so happy to have these meals because they were going to be low on food now until the end of the month and so that kind of opened up a new train of thought.”
The dinner organizers will consider the possibility of having care packages next year to help people in those kinds of situations, she said.