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Community Christmas Dinner is Saturday

Darrel and Janet Gruise, with the Star of the North Marine Corps. League, pack bags of candy earlier this week to hand out at the Community Christmas Dinner Saturday. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Star of the North Marine Corps. League has been busy filling bags with candy for those who attend the annual Park Rapids Community Christmas Dinner Saturday.

Volunteers are still needed.

Organizer Lynn Spilman said she and others have been busy this week getting food prepared for about 650 people.

With the struggling economy, Spilman thinks the Christmas Dinner will be especially well attended this year. The meal is free but donations are accepted. Any profits above the cost of the food go to the Salvation Army.

A buffet dinner of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, dressing, corn, mashed potatoes with gravy, salads, dinner rolls and pumpkin or apple pie are served. And each person gets a bag of candy.

The annual Christmas meal has grown since it started 22 years ago at the Great Northern Café. It is now held at the Park Rapids American Legion.

Volunteers have already stepped up to deliver meals that day.

Spilman encourages any businesses in town that will be open to give a call so those employees can have a meal delivered to them. The number is 732-5238 to set up a delivery.

Spilman has volunteered for years and it has become a Christmas tradition for her. To put on the meal it takes 75 or more people to volunteer.

Other families volunteer each year as well.

"There's a family from Walker that comes every year and the little girls give out the pie," she said.

Volunteer work begins Thursday, Dec. 23 with some of the setup and preparing salads. The Sons of the American Legion set up the tables.

Christmas Eve, most of the food is prepared so that by Christmas Day all that is required is serving the food and busing the tables.

In past years, about 20 turkeys and 10 hams were cooked the night before the dinner.

Spilman emphasizes that no one will go hungry.

"We'll find a way to feed anyone who wants to eat," Spilman said.

For some, the Community Christmas Dinner is about spending time with others and socializing on Christmas Day. For some, the dinner has become a family tradition.

The meal is served at the Legion from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Christmas Day. Deliveries and takeout orders are available starting at 10 a.m. Call 732-5238 to set up a delivery.

For those who would like to volunteer, any amount of time is appreciated.

To volunteer, call Spilman at 732-8250.

"It's such a fun day, to get together and spend time with others on Christmas," she said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561