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Nick cooking up holiday feast

December 04, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Every Christmas, a man Nick Giannaris estimates is 87 years old comes to Giannaris' Four Points Hotel early in the morning to help prepare a free dinner for hundreds of people in need of a hot meal and fellowship.

When the dinner begins at 11 a.m., the man takes two dinners to a nursing home so he can eat with his wife, Giannaris said.

"I hope and pray to God that I see him again this Christmas" for this year's annual "Christmas with Nick" dinner, Giannaris said Thursday in announcing plans for the annual feast.

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Giannaris doesn't know the man's name, but he considers him part of an extended family with whom he has shared the holiday since 1986.

Christmas with Nick provides a free meal and company to anyone in need or feeling lonely on Christmas Day. This year's dinner will run from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the 1910 Dual Highway hotel.

"It's the nicest day I spend all year," said Giannaris, 63.

The dinner has grown from about 250 people who participated the first year to more than 1,200 last year, he said.

"We have so many people depend on us every year, so as long as we're capable we'll keep doing it," Giannaris said.

Meals were delivered to 400 people who couldn't make it out of their homes last year, said George Turner of Turner Taxi service.

The entire community has become involved in the dinner over the years, said Turner, whose taxi service will provide free transportation to the dinner for those who need a ride.

Several companies donate food. This year, Sam's Club will help provide toys for children at the dinner, Giannaris said.

More than 200 people volunteered to help prepare and serve last year's dinner.

Volunteers don't have to spend the whole day at the dinner, but can work for 30 minutes or an hour and then sit and enjoy the food and fellowship, said Ed Lough, program volunteer coordinator.

The meal includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, soup, succotash, salad, bread, fruit, pies and cakes.

For the third year, Giannaris and Turner will "adopt" a local family, supplying them with clothes and toys for the children, Turner said.

Anyone interested in volunteering or companies that want to donate toys for children may call the hotel at 301-790-3010.

Dinner reservations aren't necessary, but can be made by calling Cheryl Moyer-Walkley at the Community Action Council at 301-797-4161 until 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 23.

After that, call Turner Taxi at 301-733-7788 for reservations, officials said.

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