Volunteer Spotlight: Help at Lebanon’s Christmas Day Dinner

  • Al Michalovic gives a pep talk to volunteers at last year's Christmas Day Dinner at Sacred Heart Church in Lebanon. (Courtesy of Listen)

Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Lebanon — Volunteers looking to share their holiday cheer are needed on Christmas Day to help prepare, serve, deliver and clean up from the Lebanon Christmas Dinner, which feeds more than 500 people in the Upper Valley each year.

“It’s definitely a good way to spend part of your Christmas Day, giving back to the community,” said Lisa Saturley, the volunteer coordinator with Listen Community Services, which is running the event for the first time this year.

The free meal takes place at 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Day, which falls on a Tuesday this year, at Sacred Heart Church at 2 Hough St. in Lebanon. It is a drop-in event and open to anyone in the community, regardless of income. In addition, nearly 300 meals are delivered to community members who cannot leave their homes to attend the meal.

“This is a community effort that takes so many volunteers to pull off,” Saturley said.

This year, about 90 volunteers are needed, mostly on Christmas Day. People are needed to help transport people to and from dinner between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Food preparation shifts run from 7-11 a.m.; serving shifts run between 10:15 a.m. and 3 p.m.; and clean-up crews are needed to help throughout the day. In addition, drivers are needed to deliver takeaway meals between 10:15 a.m.-noon. The schedule is designed so volunteers still have plenty of time throughout the day to spend with their own families or celebrations.

“A couple of hours really makes a difference, and then you have rest of the day to do family things,” Saturley said. However, she also pointed out that the dinner provides a great social outlet and festive atmosphere for volunteers who might not have their own celebrations planned. They are welcome to stick around and enjoy the feast.

People who don’t have time to spare on Christmas morning still can help with the dinner. Saturley is looking for volunteers to make all varieties of Christmas cookies for the event. Cookies can be made ahead of time and dropped off on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. In addition, volunteers are needed to help cook turkeys for the dinner. Turkeys are provided ahead of time by Listen and need to be cooked and dropped off at the church by 7:30 a.m. on Christmas.

The Christmas Dinner isn’t just about providing a hot meal on a day when many community meal services are closed. It also fosters a sense of community for people who attend the dinner and those who get meal delivery at home.

“It’s really about bringing a big group of community members together,” Saturley said. “People are getting company on Christmas Day, getting a full meal and usually enough for another meal after that.”

Those interested in participating can view the volunteer roles and sign up online by visiting lebanonchristmasdaydinner.org or by calling Saturley at 603-448-2510.