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Organizations trying to fight hunger, loneliness on Christmas

December 21, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |

Area churches and volunteers will try to make sure no one goes hungry this Christmas.

Among them, Lifehouse Bethel and the Williamsport ministerium, a group of eight churches, will each serve a free Christmas dinner on Saturday, while volunteers from Hagerstown Community College and Food & Friends will deliver special meals to families on Wednesday.

On a day marked by piles of torn wrapping paper and lavish meals, many people still go without, said Pastor David Rodriguez of Lifehouse Bethel.

"There were a lot of hungry and lonely folks on Christmas," he said of the time 10 years ago that Lifehouse Bethel started serving its Christmas Day meal.

Community dinners give people a chance to come out, have a warm meal and socialize, he said. It also allows people to give of their time as volunteers on a day known for receiving.  

Rodriguez said he expects to serve about 200 meals at the church and deliver about 200 more to those unable to come for the meal.

In Williamsport, Bill Eckard said he expects the ministerium to serve about 250 meals through it's ministry, the Shepherd's Table at Rehoboth United Methodist Church.

Eckard and his wife Laura, who run the Shepherd's Table, started serving a Christmas Day meal five years ago as a new family tradition, he said.

Today, Christmas would not be the same without the Shepherd's Table meal, which is open to the public, he said.

While public meals fulfill a critical need for many people in Washington County, Eckard said those who come to share in the meal are a diverse mix.

New to the volunteers serving meals this Christmas will be HCC sociology students, sociology professor Daniel Madron said.

Madron said his students will volunteer at Lifehouse Bethel on Christmas Day.

They also will deliver gifts and food to make a Christmas Day meal to nine families on Wednesday, and they helped with the Toys for Tots giveaway on Tuesday, he said.

Madron said he remembers having presents under the tree, time with family and a wonderful meal each Christmas. He has made it his goal to ensure that everyone in the Hagerstown area has food and gifts this holiday.

At Thanksgiving, Madron assigned his students to raise money, gather food and volunteer at community meals.

Because that assignment was such a huge success, he had leftover food and money, he said.

With additional donations from HCC faculty and staff, Madron said he was able to supply food for the nine families, toys for the Toys for Tots giveaway and volunteers for both, plus volunteers for the meal at Lifehouse Bethel.

The food delivered to the families hopefully will provide them with more than one meal, he said.

While Madron and his students are out delivering meals on Wednesday, volunteers from New Light Metropolitan Community Church will be making their biweekly deliveries to the families helped by the Washington, D.C.-based organization, Food & Friends.  

Pastor Michael Hydes of New Light MCC in Hagerstown said the church coordinates delivering enough food for two weeks to the families assisted by Food & Friends, a nonprofit organization that provides food to patients with life-challenging illnesses.

Because Christmas falls on a Saturday this year, Hydes said volunteers will deliver the food earlier in the week.  


What: Shepherd's Table 5th Annual Christmas Dinner

Where: Rehoboth United Methodist Church, 30 E. Salisbury St., Williamsport, Md.

When: Dec. 25, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Info: Free and open to the public.  Menu includes turkey, ham, sauerkraut, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, dessert and drinks.

Contact: 301-582-3454

What:  Lifehouse Bethel Annual Christmas Day Dinner

Where: Lifehouse Bethel Church, 515 E. Wilson Blvd., Hagerstown, Md.

When:  Dec. 25, Noon to 2 p.m.

Info:  Free and open to the public.  Menu includes turkey, ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, dessert and drinks.

Contact: 301-739-1167, extension 213

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