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Faiths mesh at meal

December 27, 2001

Faiths mesh at meal



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


"We're Jewish. We don't celebrate Christmas."

That's what Lynne Newman and her husband, John, have been saying every Christmas for the last 10 years. But that's not what they've been doing.

Every Christmas since 1991 the Newmans have coordinated free dinners for 200 to 300 people, mostly seniors who have nowhere to go for the holiday. Included are 80 or so shut-ins whose meals are delivered to their homes because they can't get to the Salvation Army headquarters at 159 Lincoln Way West where the dinners are served.

Coordinating for the dinner begins in early December when Lynne Newman begins rounding up her troop of 50 to 60 volunteers who serve the dinners at the Salvation Army or deliver to those in Franklin County who can't get out.

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The volunteers cook the food, decorate the tables, wrap the Christmas gifts that each diner receives and deliver meals.

Newman also recruits the donors who supply the food. "One guy dropped off three turkeys this morning," she said.

The volunteers cooked 12 turkeys to feed the estimated crowd of 300, John Newman said. They also prepared a tub of dressing plus green beans, corn, sweet and mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Desserts were donated.

Newman checks with the Franklin County Area Agency on Aging and Meals on Wheels to get an idea of how many people might show up at the Salvation Army or call in for a delivery. The senior centers serve meals during the week, but they close for Christmas, Newman said.

Until now the Newmans spent around $200 buying gifts. This year they called on the generosity of donors.

Members of the Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue in Chambersburg organize the dinners so Salvation Army employees can spend Christmas at home. The Newmans first volunteered 10 years ago. Lynne Newman said only a handful of volunteers showed up that year. She decided to coordinate the event.

"It used to be all Jewish volunteers, then more and more Christians started to come in to help. They found out how much fun it is," said Rhona Wolf, a synagogue member.

Typical of the volunteers is Jeffery Cordell, 15, of Mercersburg, Pa.

A Boy Scout, Cordell volunteered for the first time in 1997 to earn the service award he needed to get his Star rank.

"He came in his uniform that year," Lynne Newman said. "He was shorter than me then," she said. Newman is 5 feet tall. Cordell is 6 feet.

"I realized the first year that I liked helping people so I come back every year," Cordell said.

He said his career goal is to become a lawyer.

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