Preparations underway for Christmas dinner

The annual free community Christmas dinner in Alamosa, open to all, feeds about 1,000 people every year, with around 200 of those delivered to homebound community members./Courier file photo by Ruth Heide

ALAMOSA — Funded by generous donations, the non-profit organization of the Free Community Christmas Dinner will once again be serving dinner on Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25.

For the second year, this event will be held at the Columbus Home Association Hall event center (aka Knights of Columbus-behind the Bank Shot), 1112 Eighth Street, Alamosa.

“We are excited,” said Free Community Christmas Dinner Chair Debi Yund. “It’s coming together very nicely.”

She said she was looking forward to the second year in the Columbus hall, which provides more room than the American Legion Hall, which generously hosted the event for most of its 29 years. The dinner simply outgrew the space, and dinner committee members are grateful for both organizations for providing space for the community meal.

Yund said the Columbus hall was a Godsend, as it is a bigger venue with a stage just for Santa and his elves.

“The Columbus Hall has been amazing, and they are so good to us,” she said.

Ann Edstrom Watters founded this event in 1990 to ensure that no one had to spend Christmas alone. Although Ann has passed away, her legacy continues through the dedication of committee members, generous donations, and the combined efforts of numerous San Luis Valley communities.

Continued monetary support is what makes this annual event possible.

Please mail donations to: FCCD, PO Box 1981, Alamosa, CO 81101. Donations may also be made through the Christmas dinner’s Facebook page.

“We are very lucky in that our community really supports us,” Yund said. The dinner costs about $7,000 to put together every year, and the local businesses and individuals have been very supportive, from the gentleman who donates 36 turkeys each year to the individual who donates gloves, toys or cupcakes.

Yund said the dinner committee was fortunate to be able to purchase some equipment like a refrigerator/freezer, steam tables and lockable storage cabinet with donations made in Pat Lucero’s memory. Lucero chaired the committee through December 2016 when she was killed in a car accident just a few days after the Christmas dinner.

“Of course we miss Pat terribly,” Yund said, “but I know she’s watching us, because it’s coming together again. I think about her a lot this time of year.”

Families and friends come together to share in these festivities and are served a delicious turkey dinner while the children visit with Santa, pick out gifts, enter drawings for bikes, and participate in coloring contests.

Homebound meals are also delivered to those in the Alamosa locale; those needing meals delivered on Christmas Day should call Sandy/719-580-9182 and or email [email protected] and provide your name(s), address for delivery. Yund said about 200 of the approximately 1,000 served last year were homebound residents.

All are invited to the dinner. It is a community celebration where everyone is invited.

A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL VOLUNTEERS!

The feat of feeding 1,000+/- people is no easy task. It takes an estimated 100 volunteers to pull this off. Anyone wanting to volunteer please call/text Debi/719-588-3815 or email [email protected] Shifts will change on the hour mark and will run for an hour with first shift starting at 11 a.m. and last one starting at 2 p.m. Please plan on checking in 15 minutes early and enter through the south door. Volunteers are needed for the following: servers for dinners, drinks, desserts; clean-up personnel, greeters, seaters; station personnel for dessert, coffee and drinks tables; kitchen help and turkey carvers.

VOLUNTEER “PIZZA MEETING”

Those who want to help, please attend the ‘Volunteer Orientation’ on Saturday, Dec. 22, to learn the ‘ins and outs’ of serving the masses! The meeting will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Columbus Hall (aka Knights of Columbus), east of the Bank Shot, 1112 8th, Alamosa; Call/text Debi at (719-588-3815) or email [email protected]

Yund said there’s a job for everyone who is willing. “I don’t turn away volunteers,” she said. “I will find something for them to do.”

She said this is a good event for families to participate in, and it helps teach young people the value of giving back. For example, her grandchildren helped out last year and “they are so looking forward to it this year,” Yund said. “I think it’s so valuable that our children learn the importance of volunteerism.”

PRE-EVENT NEEDS

Desserts: Desserts that DO NOT need refrigeration, can be dropped off at the south door of the Columbus Hall on December 23rd & 24th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Ideas might include cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pies — pecan, apple, cherry — please no cream pies, (pumpkin pies are furnished by FCCD), cakes, etc.

‘Baby it’s cold outside!’

In years past the FCCD has given away gloves, scarfs, stocking caps, baby blankets, unwrapped toys, etc. Anyone wanting to donate any of these items, may drop them off at the south door of the Columbus Hall on December 23rd & 24th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., OR any time between now and noon on Saturday, Dec. 22nd at The Depot, 610 State Ave, Alamosa.

If donating toys, please donate new unwrapped toys. Youngsters also enjoy gloves and other warm items for the winter.

Yund said one of her favorite activities is shopping for toys for the event. “I was helping Santa shopping for toys,” she said on Tuesday. “Every year it’s just a joy. My favorite job is shopping for the toys.”

Bicycle drawings

One of the most popular highlights of the annual event is the bicycle drawings.  Children enter by dropping their name in the gift bag on the front of bike of their choice.  Drawings will end about 2:30 p.m. Children must be present to enter the bike drawings but need not be present to win. 

Coloring Contests

A special gift will be given to the winner of each age group as picked by random judges. Age groups are 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

Kitchen Help

NEEDED on Dec 23rd & Dec 24th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Turkey carvers, fruit bag prep, decorators, table/chair setup, table settings/decor, etc. Call Debi at 719-298-8049 or email [email protected] for more info.

A special thank you to the Free Community Christmas Dinner committee of

Debra Parr Yund, Rick Esquibel, Sandy Lopez, Erica Porrello and Sandra Hostetter for their hard work in putting this event together for another year! 

Keep up to date with the Christmas dinner, donate and view past Christmas dinner photos on Facebook.

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