Not everyone has the luxury of being surrounded by family while eating a hearty dinner on Christmas day. Many people in White Pine have no family in town, or no family at all. Others are unable to afford a meal, especially for an entire family.
For the past 15 years, the White Pine Ministerial Association has changed that for many.
Robert Winder, pastor of the White Pine Ministerial Association, has been overseeing the program for more than 15 years now and said that it preceded him.
Winder said it originally started so individuals who didn’t have families would have a place to come every year and enjoy a meal.
Now the annual Christmas dinner has grown from 30 individuals to more than 300 guests of all ages, both individuals and entire extended families.
But this special meal is not just for those who do not have the means to prepare a Christmas dinner at home. This is for all walks of life, for some families it’s a blessing out of pure necessity due to circumstances out of their control.
Some people travel from out of town to come and help, in addition to enjoying a meal. Working law enforcement and firefighters and any others in need of a meal on Christmas day are included in a dinner delivery, no questions asked.
The convention center is decorated very festive with holiday decorations all around, tables are decorated beautifully and lots of friendly people are there to dine with.
Winder said, “The Tour and Recreation Board graciously pay out of their own pockets for the rental fee of the Convention Center for the Community Christmas Dinner. Ed Spear and the staff at the Convention Center do such a tremendous job with the decorations and the tables, and the community has really taken on ownership of this event.”
Volunteers are also a vital key to this occasion. They take time out of their Christmas schedules to help others in need by preparing food, decorating the dining area, driving home deliveries or cleaning up afterwards.
Preparation for this event begins months in advance. Several businesses, charitable groups, churches and individuals provide monetary donations in addition to preparing food and bringing it to the convention center to serve.
Many of the items at the food bank are used for this dinner. Winder said not only does the food bank serve those in need every week, but it also serves the purpose of helping during events like this. The dinner includes a variety of meats including ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, rolls, desserts and much more.
An Ecumenical service will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Bristlecone Convention Center at 150 Sixth St. and the Christmas dinner will be served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Transportation to the event is provided as well. Shut-in meal delivery is available.
Volunteers are still needed to help prepare, serve and clean up after the meal. Cash donations and contributions of turkey, hams, and desserts are also still being welcomed.
“There is a place at the table for everybody, regardless of who you are or where you came from,” Winder said.