LIMA — On a day committed to religious remembrance, the Ellis family and other volunteers continue to remember the cause of serving the community.
Hosted on Easter every year, Sunday marked the 22nd annual Ellis Family Easter Dinner hosted at the Veterans Memorial Civic Center. The event was created to serve free dinners to anyone who wants to enjoy a meal surrounded by those from our community. Ralph Ellis, the man who began the dinner in 1991, found inspiration from an old friend to create the annual dinner.
"My friend Chester Carey started the dinner on Thanksgiving," Ellis said. "He was the inspiration I needed to start the Easter dinner and is a great way to give back to my community."
Giving back to the community is something the Ellis Dinner continues to accomplish each year. With more than 1,500 people expected to attend the dinner, guests were treated to a nice fresh meal, which included ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, coffee and other beverages and desserts. Frank Mack, an employee at Ellis Door & Window and volunteer at the dinner for 19 years, said the dinner serves a great cause.
"I have been doing this for 19 years and it is something that is special to all of us," Mack said. "This is always a great day for the community and what goes around, comes around for everyone involved with the meal."
The dinner was scheduled to last from 11 am to 1 pm, but a lot of time goes into putting the event together. Kleet Ellis, director of the dinner, talked about what the day means to him and everyone involved.
"We began the setup for the dinner yesterday and started at 5 this morning," Ellis said. "We have countless volunteers and help who know the community has been good to them, so this is our way of serving others in our community."
It takes more than a few people to make sure the dinner goes according to plan. With a list of almost 100 volunteers, each volunteer was stationed throughout the room taking care of specific duties. From the back room where the food and coffee was being made, to the entrance where people were handing out plates and utensils and all the volunteers needed to serve the food and clean trays, everyone who took part in the event had a hand in making someone's day a little brighter.
Ruth Hefner, who traveled from Columbus Grove to volunteer, said she enjoyed being a volunteer.
"I have been a volunteer for three years and think this dinner is a great way to reach the community," Hefner said. "There are many people here who know each other who are enjoying a meal together, and it is great to meet and see the smiles on everyone's face when they walk by."
At the end of the day, Ralph Ellis knows this annual gathering does not happen without the helping hand of others and is grateful for all the volunteers and people who attend the dinner.
“We have never been short of volunteers and people are always willing to help others,” Ellis said. “It is nice to serve the community in this capacity and we will have this meal for as long as we can.”