At the mention of Christmas dinner, most people imagine a traditional menu of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable, salad, rolls, pie and other desserts.
Seneca County residents do not have to imagine anything. Such a meal is to be served free 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at Camden Falls in Tiffin.
The NOAH Foundation is to provide the annual Community Christmas Day Dinner. Organizers Mitch Felton and Steve Shuff said the serving time has been extended by 30 minutes so people who attend late-morning church services still can make it for the meal.
"We don't want people who are going to church to be excluded. We're serving later so they can go to their church of choice and still come out for the dinner," Shuff said.
"Also, we thought, if we added another half-hour, we could spread it out a little bit," Felton said.
After gathering donations for the first community dinner in 2007, Shuff and Felton established a non-profit organization to pay for the food the Camden Falls staff prepares for the annual Christmas feast. Based on the belief "No on in our community should be alone or hungry on Christmas Day," the foundation was named, NOAH, an acronym for "No One Alone or Hungry."
"This will be our fourth year, and a lot of people have been there since we started. People who are new really ought to come out and see the family atmosphere that's been created. Every one of the volunteers, as well as Steve and I, go out of our way to
try to make people feel welcome and comfortable," Felton said.
At the first dinner, about 225 people participated, but the number has increased since. He said people from all over the county come together and mingle for this event. Shuff called it a "community family."
"Last year, we served about 490 and, this year, we're estimating we'll have an increase," Felton said.
"We have over 300 reservations already," Shuff added. "We can accommodate them."
About 125 volunteers are needed for the effort, and more are welcome to help out. Shuff said they will start at 10:30 a.m. Saturday to set the tables, decorate and wrap gifts. Sunday, another group comes in to transport participants, set out food, assist people with trays, clear dishes and do other tasks. Santa is to be there to pass out bags of Ballreich's chips, sweatshirts, books and a few other items that have been donated.
No donations are to be accepted at the dinner. Felton and Shuff do not want anyone, especially families, to feel obligated to give financial support.
People can learn how to contribute by calling (419) 455-4569. Those wanting to volunteer, make reservations or request transportation should call the same number by Friday.