LIMA — A few around the region are setting a table for all Christmas day.
Free Christmas dinners are again available this year for people who may have come on hard times or others who don’t want to be alone this time of year.
“We began this 10 years ago just to ensure that no one spent Christmas alone,” said Kyle Catlett, of American Legion Post 96. “Even if the economy is a little better this year, you still have people who don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with. We want to make sure that does not happen any year.”
The American Legion will serve meals from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at its banquet hall, 711 South Shore Drive. The event is made possible by a number of generous people and businesses, Catlett said. He adds that the food is all homemade.
“It is the closest thing to home you are going to get as far as the meal goes,” he said.
The dinner will include music and fellowship and a visit from Santa, who will distribute gifts to children. Nonperishable food items and clothing will be available for people in need. The American Legion continues to accept donations. They can be dropped off at 711 South Shore Drive or call 419-225-5641.
The American Legion served 500 meals last year and expects the same this year. Catlett encourages first responders working on Christmas to take advantage of the meal. Black and White Cab will again offer free rides to and from the dinner. Call 419-222-6161.
Ray’s Place will begin serving meals at noon. The business is located at 200 W. Grand Ave. Owner Ray Magnus has been doing the Christmas meals for the past 12 years and Thanksgiving meals for 18 years.
“I have done it because there is a need in the community,” he said. “You will always have people who are hungry and growing up as a child with not much food to eat, this is a way to give back to the community.”
Rockford United Methodist Church will offer a Christmas meal from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rockford Community Building in Shanes Park. It is the eighth year of the dinner. Organizer Susan Sheppard said the meal is sit down with attendees eating from China dishes and with real flatware on decorated tables.
“I think this makes it more special,” she said.
Sheppard said when the church started the dinner it emphasized feeding anyone hungry or alone. It has grown to include people with extended families who want to sit down together without having to cook.
“We see three and four generations dining together and nobody has to do the dishes,” she said. “We celebrate together the best gift ever given.”