Christmas dinner continues

Volunteers pitch in to ensure event goes on

PAUL LAPANN Special to the Times Chris Alfred and Amy Leach were determined that a 27th annual Christmas community dinner would be held this year at First Presbyterian Church in Parkersburg.

PARKERSBURG –There was talk about discontinuing the Christmas Day community dinner at First Presbyterian Church in Parkersburg this year.

The congregation is getting older and not as many people are available or able to volunteer on Christmas morning.

But Amy Leach and Chris Alfred were determined that a 27th annual dinner would take place this year. Hundreds of local people look forward to the turkey dinner and fellowship associated with the Christmas event.

Leach, as chairwoman, and Alfred, as co-chairman in charge of the kitchen, led Monday’s dinner in First Presbyterian Church’s fellowship hall. They were joined by about 50 other volunteers.

The hall was filled with people from noon to 2 p.m. enjoying the turkey dinner and a visit from Santa Claus, who passed out candy canes.

Santa had been absent from the dinner for a few years.

Leach said about 200 dinners were delivered to shut-ins and those living in high-rises.

Leach had volunteered at the Christmas dinner in the past and Alfred had worked at the dinner for two years.

The two made a few changes this year.

The dinner deliveries began an hour earlier this year — at 10:45 a.m.

Alfred noted that local businesses once again supported the church’s effort in having a community dinner, by providing pies and food supplies.

Ann Leach, Amy’s mother, said every business contacted was wonderful about agreeing to provide food or supplies. Businesses offered to provide more than was requested by the church and some gave monetary donations, she said.

Amy Leach said it is the younger generation’s legacy to make sure the Christmas Day dinner continues.

She plans to make sure the dinner continues.

Amy Leach noted the contributions made by the volunteers.

Dawn DeBerry is the church’s custodian who contributes a lot to the dinner’s success, by getting the church hall ready and serving food.

“I like giving back,” DeBerry said. “It’s an older church.”

One family looks forward to volunteering at the Christmas dinner before they open gifts at home.

Jessica Peterman, 17, Chazmin Powell, 16, Chrystah Riley, 11, and Chazlie Peterman enjoy serving food, removing the finished plates of food, helping to prepare for the dinner and packing cookies — before heading home for their family Christmas celebrations.

The Rev. Michael Seely, church pastor, said he was glad the Christmas Day dinner continued.

Seely credited Amy Leach and Alfred with doing a great job in leading this year’s dinner.