Volunteers make holiday special

BUCKHANNON – Various volunteers and patrons enjoyed the true meaning of the holidays this season at the annual Parish House Community Christmas Dinner at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Buckhannon.

More than 80 volunteers worked around the clock for three days to prepare and serve a Christmas dinner to people in need of food, fun and company. Some volunteers worked in the kitchen preparing food, while others served the meal to patrons or prepared dinners for take-out.

Those who wanted to have a dinner could order one to be delivered to their residence, pick up a dinner to take home with them or enjoy a meal in the church. More than 100 dinners were delivered to residents in the area, and numerous others were served to patrons who swung by for the holiday.

“We’ve gotten word from people from all over the surrounding counties,” said Rev. Alicia Randolph Rapking, who helped coordinate the event. “We want everyone to have a Christmas.”

The dinner, which was open to the public, has been a tradition at Chapel Hill for more than 10 years. The planning for the dinner started in March. Fundraisers for the dinner include the church’s Christmas in July celebration and various other events throughout the summer and fall months.

The dinner included turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, corn casserole, and numerous homemade desserts.

“People tell me that it must be unfortunate to give up my Christmas to be here,” said Debbie Huber, who also helped coordinate the dinner. “But the truth is, I’m not giving up anything. This is my Christmas, this is what it’s all about. This is a gift that you can’t buy in stores.”

And the patrons were appreciative of the efforts, including Brennice Tharp and her family.

“Our family has had a very difficult year,” she said. “It’s great to come here, where you know people and you realize that no one has to spend Christmas alone. It’s truly a blessing.”

But it’s not just the patrons who felt blessed to be there. Dorse and Deanna Gillum said that volunteering on Christmas was a fulfilling experience for them as well.

“It feels good to help people,” said Dorse Gillum. “Many of the people that come in here today don’t have anybody and just appreciate the idea of somebody doing something for them. It’s a much bigger blessing to give than to receive.”

This year’s festivities happened courtesy of many businesses and individuals, including Buckhanon Rotary Club, Patty Andrus, Chuck Loudin, First Community Bank, Coldwell Banker-Armstrong Realty, Bryan Green, Ralph’s Furniture, Abel Family Eye Care, Burr’s Outdoor Power Equipment, Ron Hinkle Glass, Colonial Hotel and Motel, Sam’s Pizza, Centennial Motel, Elite Cleaners, Dave and Susan Long, Riverside Bed & Breakfast, LLC., Saint-Gobain Ceramics & Plastics, Poling St. Clair Funeral Home, and Wendy’s, as well as a number of anonymous donors, all of whom provided money, materials and/or services for the cause.

Contact Chad Clem by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.