Grace Lutheran Church hosts free Christmas dinner

Hundreds gathered to soak up the Christmas cheer at Trinity United Church on Christmas Eve for the carol-lighting service

The Community Fellowship Dinner is in its 30th year, and has grown fast from its beginnings, when just a few people gathered at private homes on Thanksgiving.

Two community Christmas meals were held in Marshall over the weekend.

It's the 49th year Wausau has had a Community Christmas Dinner. "It's really an honor to be able to serve people in need during this giving time of the year". One attendee, Melinda Spangler, said the food was excellent.

Both meals have become holiday traditions for community members.

This Christmas they served around 800 meals, with 300 of those being delivered by their many volunteers. "I'm proud to show them that family means more than just blood relatives". Besides the candies, Hallums enjoys extending the church's fellowship to community.

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The church, at 97 S. Franklin St., organizes an army of volunteers to pull off the special event. Volunteers hustle around with trays, while those waiting for a seat enjoy Christmas music in the sanctuary. Volunteers had a "turkey day", to cook and cut up 40 turkeys donated by Turkey Valley Farms.

"So, I'm taking a day alone to declutter and watch 'The Crown, '" Yoder says.

"It's wonderful", Joseph said. Lepler said the dinner now serves about 900 people.

For some volunteers, helping at a community Christmas meal was part of their family's own holiday celebrations. She adds, "I want to thank all the volunteers. It's nice to give back", Hooley said.

"It's a good problem to have, though", said Fortuna, who was running the seventh annual Christmas dinner sponsored by the Wantage United Methodist Church, in cooperation with the Sussex church. Graves says multiple partnerships make the outreach effort possible. This Christmas, Durham said at least 700 people will have been fed, either by the meal provided at the church or by the conversation and socialization they have received while they were there. "It's a flawless way to spend the start of the Christmas Day". "So we enjoy coming here and these people here are so friendly to you and they make you feel like family". Fourty-nine years of serving a hot Christmas dinner, to those who would come to have one, but its not just for people who are on hard times.

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