Lending a hand

Volunteers help make the annual Community Christmas Dinner a success

Photo by Jody Isaackson Carter Barker of Marshall received a slice of bread from server Mike Sanders at the Community Christmas Dinner at Holy Redeemer’s Carlin Hall on Sunday.

MARSHALL – Roberta Wyatt said she came to Marshall in 2004, and the Community Christmas Dinner in Carlin Hall at Holy Redeemer Church had already been started. Wyatt said she had started attending as a guest of her aunt, Elizabeth Brookshire. She eventually progressed to volunteering to serve for the dinner, along with other family members last year, to heading up the planning committee this year.

“Last year Karol Kopitzki and Yvonne Girard headed it up,” Wyatt said. “This fall Karol came to me and asked if I would do it.”

In some ways, it may have been a strange request, since, Wyatt said, “I’m not even a member of Holy Redeemer Church.”

On the other hand, it makes a lot of sense since Wyatt used to own and operate the Daily Grind until she sold it two years ago. Having had the restaurant business experience, Wyatt was accustomed to planning meals for others.

This year, the Community Christmas Dinner committee was planning for 400 dinners, she said.

“Last year we had about 150 take-aways,” she said, “and  we ran out of a couple of items.”

This year, the plan was to have those who wish to order take-aways call ahead and, hopefully, be able to pick them up between 11 a.m. and noon, and seating for the sit-down dining was scheduled to begin at noon.

The menu included roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, a Christmas cookie and ice cream.

First-time attendees Troy Jones of Cottonwood and Carter Barker of Marshall both pronounced it, “Good!” First-time servers, Mike and Cindy Sanders and their son, Luke, seemed to enjoy distributing cranberry sauce and bread.

Since the meal is available to anyone in the community, and only a donation is requested, Wyatt was asked who pays for the supplies for the meal.

“Turkey Valley Farms provided 41 turkeys, and one was donated by an individual,” she said. The turkeys were roasted earlier in the week. “Hy-Vee provided the bread, and Reinhart (FoodService L.L.C.) provided the juice. People in the food service business are really willing to help.”

According to Wyatt, she had been told that the dinner had been held every year since it began, with the exception of the year Carlin Hall was being remodeled.

“Usually only parishioners attend, but we’re hoping it really turns into a community-wide event,” she said.

Who was expected to partake in the Community Christmas Dinner this year, Wyatt was asked.

Anyone in the community who may be without family this year, those  who cannot get home for the holidays, Esther’s Kitchen patrons and/or even people who wish to start a new Christmas tradition and have their entire family attend, according to Wyatt, who seems to have made it her family tradition.