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Pa. holiday meal serves 200 in Chambersburg

December 26, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Twelve cooked turkeys, more than 20 loaves of bread and too many cans of cranberry sauce to count were needed Saturday to prepare a hot sit-down meal for 200 people at the Salvation Army's Christmas dinner.

"We started serving at noon and by 12:45 p.m. most of the food was gone and we were nearly finished feeding everyone," said organizer Lynne Newman, who served holiday diners in a packed dining hall at the organization's offices on Lincoln Way West.

Coordinated by the members of the Sons of Israel synagogue in Chambersburg, the annual Christmas dinner started nearly 20 years ago. Local Jews volunteered to organize the dinner, which allowed Salvation Army staff time off from work to enjoy Christmas at home with their families, said Newman, who is also a member of the synagogue.

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In addition to preparing a dinner, Newman and her husband shopped for Christmas gifts and arranged to have Christmas dinners delivered to the homes of about 50 local seniors.

For Newman, the dinner is a labor of love, but she admits she couldn't pull it off without the help of a small army of dedicated workers.

"It took about 50 volunteers to serve about 200 people and we handed out about 300 to 400 Christmas gifts to kids," Newman said.

Chambersburg's Christina Thomas, 23, said Saturday's Christmas dinner was like dining with one big family. She's been eating Christmas dinner at the Salvation Army since she was 11 years old, she said.

"We had turkey, and it was juicy, mashed potatoes and stuffing," Thomas said, as she held her 2-year-old daughter.

Newman also praised the work of youth volunteers like Jeff Cordell, 18, who's volunteered to work with the younger children who attend the dinner for the past six years.

"I plan to keep coming as long as I'm able, and one day I hope to bring my kids," he said.

Corine Rollins, 12, of Chambersburg is also a six-year veteran volunteer.

Rollins, who is Jewish, said she started serving beverages when she was 6 years old. This year, she helped distribute hundreds of free gifts to area children who attended the dinner.

After working from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rollins said she planned to spend the remainder of the day relaxing with her grandparents, Fred and Rhona Wolf, who've been volunteers for 14 years.

Fred Wolf washed dishes after the meal while his wife wrapped and distributed gifts.

"One little boy brought tears to our eyes. You should have seen the smile on his face when he opened his gift," Rhona Wolf said.

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