LIMA — Bitterly cold weather over Christmas may have delayed organizers from holding their scheduled Lima Community Christmas Dinner that day, but participants did not have to wait long, as they were able to enjoy a hot holiday meal Sunday at the Lima VFW.
Despite the weather delay, spirits remained high as community members partook of the traditional turkey and ham dinner with all the traditional side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes.
“This is the 18th dinner because we canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID,” community dinner co-chairman Kyle Catlett said.
The idea for the dinner came after Catlett and two of his friends attended a Thanksgiving community dinner in 2002.
“We came back [to the VFW] because they were open that day,” he said. “We were talking, ‘There’s no place open on Christmas. Unless people went to a bar, they’re not going to eat.’”
Since that conversation, hundreds of Lima area residents have participated in this Christmas dinner, either receiving a meal or as a volunteer. Catlett spoke of many years when he saw people waiting in line out the door for a meal. Despite the demand, help has always made its way to the dinner organizers, whether from individuals, churches, or businesses, including Save-A-Lot and Kewpee Hamburgers.
“Most of the volunteers have been here every year,” Catlett said. “In a typical year, we have around 400 to 500 [meal recipients]. I think our biggest year was about 500 people.”
Being pushed back two weeks, the numbers were lower at this year’s dinner, but plenty of conversation could still be heard in the VFW as organizers made their way around the tables asking how people were enjoying their meal.
“It’s very well done,” one participant said as he made his way out the door.
“It was delicious. Thank you so much,” a woman at another table said.
For volunteers like Dave Bassett, knowing people got to enjoy a hot meal and some fellowship made all the effort worthwhile.
“Doing something for somebody else is the greatest thing you can do,” he said. “It makes you feel so good inside, especially when they are not able to return the favor. Then, you’re just exchanging something. When you can do something for somebody else like that, it just makes you feel good inside.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.