BUCKHANNON – The long-time tradition of the Buckhannon Community Christmas Day Dinner, sponsored by the Upshur Parish House, will take place once again this year.
However, dinner will be available for takeout or delivery only due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic safety concerns.
Upshur Cooperative Parish House/Crosslines, Inc. executive director Kristi Wilkerson told My Buckhannon the event will still take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 25 with pickup available at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, located at 88 South Kanawha Street.
“Last year, we served 400 meals,” Wilkerson said. “We usually serve around the same number of meals, and this is something that been happening for many years.”
Were it not for continuing pandemic-related health concerns, Wilkerson said volunteers would likely serve more meals because numerous people enjoy coming for the companionship and fellowship.
Wilkerson said for takeout, residents may simply drive through, and they are able to call ahead to reserve a meal – although that is not necessary.
“Delivery is available in a limited area in town, and we will try to accommodate folks as best as we can with delivery,” she said. “Anyone who would like to schedule a meal delivery can call 681-433-6739 before Dec. 24 to set that up.”
Planning for the annual dinner takes nearly six months to plan and execute, she said.
“We have a new volunteer coordinator this year,” Wilkerson said. “Carol Meese has organized this dinner for the last several years and this year she has turned the reins over to Robynn Shannon. Carol was so involved, and she is still helping and advising, but Robynn is now the coordinator. We began preparing for the Community Christmas Day Dinner in the summer and the Pro Start students at Buckhannon-Upshur High School will be helping with the preparations as well during the week of Christmas.”
Wilkerson said they are still in need of some extra volunteers to help throughout the week and on Christmas Day to help assemble the meals and distribute them.
“This year, Robynn made the suggestion that dessert be Christmas cookies,” Wilkerson said. “So, we will be doing cookies. If anyone would like to bake and bring us cookies a few days in advance of the dinner, that would be much appreciated.”
This year, the Community Christmas Day Dinner will feature ham and side dishes.
“We will be serving ham with pineapple, au gratin potatoes, yams, green beans, hot rolls and Christmas cookies,” Wilkerson said. “We will probably have about 25 volunteers throughout the week working to help ‘pre-prepare’ for the dinner. Folks who want to volunteer to help should call Linda at 304-472-0743. All volunteers are asked to wear face coverings and gloves.”
Wilkerson said the Community Christmas Day Dinner is offered free of charge, but freewill donations to help defray the cost will be accepted.
“Community members, businesses, churches and civic organizations can make tax-deductible contributions to help cover the cost of the meal. Checks can be mailed to Upshur Parish House, 68 College Ave., Buckhannon, WV 26201,” Wilkerson said. “Please make a note on the check that the donation is to be earmarked for the Christmas Day Dinner.”
Wilkerson said she hopes people will take advantage of the Community Christmas Day Dinner.
“The event is for anyone in need of a meal for Christmas for any reason,” she explained. “Sometimes, we have folks who come and pick up meals because they are low-income, sometimes they live alone and do not want to cook a big meal for just one person, and sometimes, folks come because they have to work on Christmas Day and getting one of the meals makes it simpler for them.”
“There is a variety of reasons folks come and get a meal, and we want people to know that is okay because this is a Community Dinner and we focus on the community,” Wilkerson added. “Anyone who would like to come and get a meal is welcome to one.”
Wilkerson said she and all those organizing the Community Christmas Day Dinner are thankful for the generosity of the community.
“Anytime we have an event like this, the community helps out and they really step up to help us,” Wilkerson said. “We could not provide any of the services and ministries we do at the Parish House without the community support — those who give generously, the volunteers. It takes a team effort, or a village, and we truly appreciate all they do to make this possible for the community.”
Wilkerson said she feels the Community Christmas Day Dinner is an important tradition.
“It helps us to share the Christmas Spirit and the Christmas Day with different folks,” she said. “This is just a really nice event from the start to finish. It takes a lot of folks, but it is such a nice day and a good way to spend Christmas. I think whether folks come to volunteer or to get a meal, they will enjoy the event as well.”