GREENVILLE — How many people does it take to put on a free Community Christmas Dinner for hundreds of guests? The answer is… it takes a community.
Up until two years ago, Pastor Hershel Fee and wife, Barbara, did most of the oversight for the event at Lighthouse Christian Center for 36 years.
Now, a committee has been formed to continue the tradition.
Several local businesses, business owners and community members stepped forward to form that committee two years ago.
Serving this year are Eric Fee, chair, and Al and Lyn Bliss, David and Pam Furlong, Teresa Garber, Kelly Holderman, Carol Price, Barbara Greiner, Nancy Livingston, and Jana Kolling.
Each of them oversees a particular area of the event including gift wrapping, fundraising, catering, volunteers, and set up and tear down (the latter done by Marty McCabe).
Eric said he expects there will be even more people coming this year as there is now more of an outreach with the committee involvement.
Pastor Fee said the dinner is for the lonely, the needy and anybody who has no one to spend the holidays with.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” said Dave Furlong, committee member.
Last year, 109 volunteers helped with the Community Christmas Dinner. There were 350 dinners served and 150 meals delivered to shut-ins.
‘We had one host at each table serving our guests” Furlong said.
“It’s a five-star experience for them,” Eric Fee said. “We even have menus.”
Santa’s helper, Jeff Wappelhorst, has volunteered every Christmas to help out.
The food that is prepared includes chicken and ham, and barbecued pork donated by Dick Billenstein. Eikenberry’s donates the corn, beans and rolls, and Oakley Place and Wick’s donate approximately 60 pies.
Steve Beam has donated milk and juice since the beginning of the dinner. Additional sides for the meal are being donated by Village Green, Montage, Merchant House and Vint’s.
“John Hathaway is donating the butter,” Pastor Fee said. “Flowers for the centerpieces have been donated by Miller’s and Helen’s floral shops.”
They never run out of food and even fill up to-go boxes for people to take home if leftover food is available. Extra pies are given away as door prizes.
The meal starts at 11 a.m., but people may arrive at 10:30 to enjoy coffee and fellowship with others.
It was noted that Livingston and Kolling will sing during the event, and Dean and Ann White will be singing Christmas carols at the beginning.
Gifts will be given out to all of the children, and door prizes to adults.
“Last year, we gave out 78 bikes, and we are hoping to give bikes out every other year,” Eric said.
Also at this event all of the donors and volunteers will be recognized and are invited to attend or send a representative of their business/office.
Pastor Fee said he got the idea for the Christmas dinner after he attended a funeral and was told about how lonely some of the people are.
Those wanting to donate money or door prizes are asked to make checks payable to “Community Christmas Dinner” and mail to: Community Christmas Dinner, 1000 N. Broadway, Greenville, OH 45331-2300. Those who are would like to volunteer their time on Christmas Day or before to get things ready may contact Teresa Garber at 423-8252.