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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Locals step up to keep community Christmas dinner going

By Kyle Vuille

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

With Christmas coming up, in typical Glendive fashion, the community has banded together to keep the Glendive Community Dinner going for its ninth year running.

The Glendive Community Christmas Dinner, will be held Dec. 25 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the EPEC Center in Glendive. Everyone is invited to attend.

For the past eight years, the Promise Keepers volunteered their time and funds to spread the holiday cheer for many in the community.

This year, the Promise Keepers were unable to take on the event at the level they had in the past, so the torch was passed on to the community members who are organizing this year’s dinner.

When local caterer Betsey Hedrick and Mid-Rivers public relations spokeswoman Katy Peterson heard the Promise Keepers could not organize this year’s dinner, they didn’t want to see a tradition like that slip away, so they stepped up.

Peterson is in charging of organizing and finding volunteers and the marketing portion while Hedrick is coordinating the food portion of the event.

“The Promise Keeprs gave us a list of volunteers, they kept notes on the amount of food and they were kind enough to hand that stuff over and let us run with it,” Peterson said.

According to Bob Ackerman, one of the Promise Keepers who has been around since the very first community dinner, the first dinner was hosted in the Knights of Columbus hall with about 50 people in attendance.

“Our idea then was to just help those in need,” Ackerman said.

Ackerman said throughout the years, the crowd got bigger and bigger and community involvement in the event grew.

He said after a few years, the mission and objective of having the dinner shifted from focusing on just those in need to everyone in the community.

“We didn’t want it to be just for those down and out,” Ackerman said.

Ackerman explained the dinner always has been about giving the community a stage to have “just a family time.”

“You might have a professional and someone without a job sitting next to each other and realizing they have a lot in common,” Ackerman said. “They might have not realized it until they broke bread.”

Ackerman also noted that since the first community dinner, it’s always been non-dominational event with every sect of Christianity represented, “because Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.”

Since Hedrick and Peterson started their crusade to find volunteers for the event, well over 50 people have signed up to be volunteers.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have the Promise Keepers’ list,” Hendrick said.

Hedrick and Peterson said they’ve have been approached by community members who are excited for the dinner.

“It is a big day for families, this community really rallies around events like this,” Peterson said. 

The organizers emphasized they are still looking for people to decorate on Dec. 21 and the other various food preparation on Dec. 22.

According to Hedrick, the turkeys will be cooked at the Eastern Plains Event Center in their four big ovens along with some roasters the facility has.

As far as the pies and desserts go, Hedrick said about half the pies were be made in private homes while the other half will come from the Reynold’s bakery.

According to Ackerman, in the early years of the dinner, all the food was cooked in private homes and brought to the dinner. He described the scene almost chaotic because people were coming in left and right with different entrees and sides of the meal.

Even with the records of previous years and having ordered the meat already, Hedrick and Peterson said they have estimated the cost per person to be $4-5 dollars. There is no charge for the meal, but donations of any kind are appreciated.

Hedrick added there are lot of different variables going into the dinner including the rent to the EPEC and things like to-go boxes.

Hedrick said based on the  projections, she said they expect to serve and deliver from 900 to 1,000 meals this Christmas Day.

Along with the need for volunteers, Hedrick and Peterson mentioned there is a particular need for toy donations this year. Santa attends the Christmas dinner and hands out toys to the youngsters.

The suggestions for toy donations are pretty open ranging toys for newborns to a 12-year-old children. Peterson suggested coloring books, toy trucks, toy cars and dolls. She added the community would be grateful for any toys.

The community dinner will also feature multiple musicians from around town to entertain during the dinner. Hedrick added anyone who would like to sing or play an instrument is welcome to come.

He added the event has always been a success due to the community’s willingness to participate.

“The community has taken such a ownership of it,” Ackerman said. “And it will only get better and better.”

For more information about donating or volunteering for the event, please call Katy at 406-687-7387. Donations can be mailed to PO Box 847, Glendive, MT  59330.

Reach Kyle Vuille at
news@rangerreview.com.

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