Doctors traded their scalpels for carving knives on Friday to help prepare Christmas Eve meals for the less fortunate of Washington County.
Dr. Stephen Kotch, an emergency room physician at Meritus Medical Center, said doctors, hospital staff and volunteers planned to deliver 600 meals during the annual Lend-A-Hand Dinner, an event that provides food for the elderly and for people with low incomes and physical disabilities.
The meal, which included ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie, was prepared at Dimensions Dining & Catering near Funkstown.
“We just thought it would be a good way to give back to the community,” Kotch said. “What’s the most gratifying is seeing the hospital staff and their families come together.”
He said hospital employees paid for the meal through donations.
The Lend-A-Hand Dinner began in 2002, when 300 meals were delivered by emergency room personnel at the former Washington County Hospital. Kotch said that within a few years, the entire hospital got involved and the number of dinners increased to more than 2,000.
He said this year’s event had to be downsized because organizers couldn’t use the kitchen at Washington County Hospital, which moved a few weeks ago to the newly constructed Meritus Medical Center east of Hagerstown. That’s where Dimensions Dining and Catering stepped in.
The inside of Dimensions ran like a fine-tuned machine. Servers prepared plates that were passed onto baggers, who gave the meals to drivers for delivery. Volunteers of all ages turned out to help.
Boonsboro resident James Saunders delivered meals with his wife, Stephanne, and their two sons, Nathan, 13, and Logan, 11.
“This is our fourth or fifth year,” James Saunders said. “I think it’s something everyone should be a part of, but I know they can’t.”
Nathan Saunders said he likes to wish people a Merry Christmas when he delivers meals from door to door.
“It’s just fun to help people who need this at this time,” he said. “It’s cold out. It’s fun to share the Christmas spirit.”
Kotch said he hopes that Lend-A-Hand organizers can prepare next year’s dinner at Meritus Medical Center so they can feed more people.