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Christmas dinner to be served again for those in need

Nick Giannaris and George Turner will co-host the 17th annual Christmas with Nick luncheon Dec. 25 at the Four Points Sheraton

Nick Giannaris and George Turner will co-host the 17th annual Christmas with Nick luncheon Dec. 25 at the Four Points Sheraton

December 13, 2002|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - For the last 16 years, Hagerstown businessman Nick Giannaris has sponsored a free Christmas Day luncheon at the Four Points Sheraton for people who had no place else to go.

This year he had second thoughts.

"Last year I read something in the paper that really upset me," Giannaris said Thursday. "Someone said he came just to take his wife out of the kitchen."

Taking the wife out of the kitchen wasn't the reason Giannaris and a squad of volunteers left their own families every Christmas to put on the annual feast, he said.

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Giannaris said he wondered whether the effort was worth the trouble.

George Turner, owner of Turner Van Service and co-host with Giannaris of Christmas with Nick, persuaded him that there were still people in the community who couldn't prepare a special meal for themselves or their families.

"I believe in my heart the need is still there," Turner said. "What (Giannaris) has done is, has been and always will be a need in the community."

So for the 17th year, Giannaris and Turner will host Christmas with Nick from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Christmas Day at the Four Points Sheraton, 1910 Dual Highway in Hagerstown. The event is free to anyone who needs a Christmas meal or doesn't want to spend the holiday alone. Organizers estimate between 1,000 and 1,200 meals will be served.

Turner and the Washington County Commuter will provide free transportation to the hotel for those who need it.

This year, Turner's asking a favor in return.

"I'd like for anyone who's come out for a meal, or any volunteer, anybody who has a story to just write a letter or a note to Mr. Nick and tell us about it."

Letters may be sent to Giannaris at P.O. Box 979, Hagerstown, MD 21740.

Turner said he'd like to compile a scrapbook of stories connected with Christmas with Nick.

"I know there are lots of stories out there," Turner said.

Over the years, Christmas with Nick has become such a large community event that organizers don't even try to figure out what it costs each year. Several businesses donate goods or services.

Ed Lough coordinates volunteers for the event. He said he's amazed at the 200 to 300 volunteers who show up every year "with little or no organization - the volunteers just come and work," setting tables, serving meals, distributing toys to children and cleaning up after guests have left.

The Community Action Council will take reservations for the event until Christmas, Finance Director Debbie Wasilius said.

To make reservations, arrange for a meal to be delivered or arrange for transportation, call the Community Action Council at 301-797-4161.

To volunteer, call Cathy Lewis at 301-790-3010. To donate toys, call Turner Van Service at 301-739-3005.

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