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Families from near and far gather to provide dinner to hundreds in W.Va.

December 25, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • The Townsend family take a break from serving meals at the Asbury United Methodist Church's third annual Community Christmas Dinner in Charles Town, W.Va. From left: Ed and Peggy Townsend from Manchester, Mich., Phyllis Townsend, their daughter-in-law, of Summit Point, W.Va., and her husband, Carl Townsend, of Summit Point.
Photo by Richard Belisle

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Ed and Peggy Townsend of Manchester, Mich., spent Christmas Tuesday serving holiday dinners to a lot of folks they didn’t know.

Another couple, Chris Elmer, a math professor at Shepherd University, and Cathy Malast, who live in Shepherdstown, came to Asbury United Methodist Church at 110 W. Church St. because they “wanted to be with some people on Christmas.”

Bill Ball, a lay minister, was there to volunteer at what was the church’s third annual Community Christmas Dinner.

Ball was one of about 50 volunteers who gave up their holiday to ensure that others could grab at least a slice of what Christmas means to most people.

“The first year we served about 175 dinners,” Ball said. “Last year it was 250, and so far today, we’ve served more than 200.”

Included were 27 dinners taken to those who couldn’t leave their homes. Church members partnered with Meals on Wheels volunteers to make sure the dinners were delivered.

Volunteers arrived at the church early Sunday to cook 10 turkeys and five hams. Others arrived around 6 a.m. Tuesday to cook the side dishes.

The Townsends came to Charles Town to spend Christmas with their son, Carl Townsend, and his wife, Phyllis, in Summit Point, W.Va. They were soon recruited to volunteer at the community dinner.

At one point in the early afternoon, the Michigan couple was serving pastries at the dessert table.

Ed Townsend said he and Peggy left Michigan “to get away from snow, and we got into it more than ever. We were driving 25 miles per hour on Interstate 80.”

The Townsend family will have its Christmas dinner Wednesday in Summit Point.

Carl Townsend, a federal worker in Washington, D.C., moved to Jefferson County 28 years ago, drawn by the climate and the mountains, he said.

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