MARSHALL - When Carol Henderson, the organizer of the annual community Christmas dinner, got a call in early November from Bob and Trixie Cool's son, Jason, saying that his family wanted to volunteer with the meal, she didn't know what to expect.
"I'm thinking, a family, five people," Henderson said.
Jason Cool, of the Fargo, N.D. area, later told Henderson that about 16 members of his family, including his sisters, nieces and nephews and in-laws, were coming to help.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Melissa Palicka, Joshua Ulmer and Cindy Nuese prepare take-out meals at the annual community Christmas dinner Tuesday at Carlin Hall in Holy Redeemer Church.
"It was Jason's initiative," Bob Cool said.
"To me, that was awesome," Henderson said.
Several families volunteered at the yearly meal that was in Carlin Hall at Holy Redeemer Church on Tuesday. A little before 11 a.m., volunteers were busily packing more than 160 to-go dinners, while others stirred vegetables, got the desserts ready and drove the meals around town.
Jason Cool said the reason he decided to organize his family together to help at the Christmas meal was they wanted to do it, and it was the "right reason for the season."
"Rather than receive, we want to give," Jason Cool said.
"We've been thinking about it for years," Bob Cool said.
"(It's to get the focus off ourselves," said Melissa Palicka, one of the Cools' daughters from Ramsey. "We're thankful we're doing it."
Gretchen Ulmer, another one of Bob and Trixie's daughters from Iowa, was happy to assist in the dinner. She said they were all home to visit and wanted to do something of service during Christmas.
"Jesus came to serve and we want to serve too," Ulmer said.
Joshua Ulmer, one of the Cools' grandchildren, was putting turkey into the to-go boxes.
"I enjoy it," he said.
Even Bob Cool's sister, Jean, of Battle Lake, was getting in on the action in the kitchen as she scooped up potatoes.
"I think it's great, it's absolutely great," Jean Cool said.
Cindy Nuese and her daughter Emily started helping out at the Christmas dinner two years ago. Cindy Nuese said her mother had died three years ago, and they had always spent the holidays with her.
"Emily said 'let's do this Mom,'" Cindy Nuese said. "It's great to meet new people."
"I love doing this kind of thing," Emily Nuese said, adding that she also helps with bell-ringing for the Salvation Army.
Beth Soupir said it's the first time her entire family, including her kids Austin and Kendra, and husband, Mike, were involved with the Christmas dinner as they went to deliver meals.
"It's good to get them (the kids) involved," Beth Soupir said.
Jim and Maggie Novosad, along with their son, Lucas and his girlfriend Jessica Yanker, helped cut up cakes and assemble cookie trays for the desserts.
Maggie Novosad said her family celebrated Christmas earlier this year.
"Jimmy just said 'let's go down and help out with the dinner,'" Maggie Novosad said.
After they were finished in the kitchen, members of the Cool family took their places in the serving line, wishing guests a Merry Christmas.