Christmas meals served on-the-go

Volunteers helped get food out to more than 150 people on Christmas Eve, ensuring that area families and individuals were well-fed for the holiday. [Photo courtesy of Duane Taddei]

With local churches unable to meet the challenge of serving their Christmas dinners to the community this year, Soup’s On Kitchen Manager Karen Burrece and a small army of local volunteers stepped up to the plate last week to see the community was well-fed.

“It was quite an undertaking,” said Burrece. “But when we all figured out that there was no community meal going to be available this year, we said we would take that on.”

While Soup’s On generally serves an average of between 50 and 80 every Sunday, Christmas Eve saw somewhere between 150 and 200 people line up at the First Presbyterian Church to obtain their holiday dinners.

Fixing meals for that number was no small feat.

Including organizing, the entire project took around a month to throw together, Burrece said. Dinner items themselves like turkey, ham, potato stuffing, green beans, pies and gravy took weeks of food preparation as the team of volunteers braced for as many as 300 people.

As indoor activities are restricted under current COVID-related rules, volunteers packaged meals into containers for easy transport for awaiting vehicles as the day saw a steady stream of drive-thru service.

Some meals were even delivered to those who were unable to leave their house.

Momentum for the project snowballed after it first launched about a month ago, attracting dozens of volunteers from various resources in town including Rural Organizing Project (ROP) and Be Your Best.

In addition to volunteers, the community meals were made possible by food and funding donations. The whole project was estimated to cost about $2,500 in the end.

And leftovers didn’t go to waste – the remaining food was handed out at a Soup’s On service the following Sunday.

Despite facing the challenge of first-time implementation, Burrece was pleased with the outcome and thanked the community for its volunteerism.

“I think it was a success,” she said. “I really appreciate all the volunteers that put in the effort – especially the day of – and all of those who helped me in the preparation. It took a lot of community effort to get this community meal out.”

Soup’s On distributes meals every Sunday from 4 to 5 p.m. in the back of the ROP building at 632 E Main St.

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