Community Christmas dinner organizers prepare for 350-plus in Chimacum

CHIMACUM — Organizers of a community Christmas dinner feast are telling everyone who wants a free meal and pleasant company today to come to the Tri-Area Community Center at noon, load up their plates and receive good tidings of the holiday season.

More than 350 people are expected at the center at 10 West Valley Road between noon and 3 p.m. for a meal provided by a collection of community members interested only in the spirit of giving and supplying a sumptuous meal.

10 turkeys, 5 hams

Ten giant turkeys and five massive hams have been cooked and carved in preparation for the feast organized by Olympic Community Action Programs and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church.

More than 20 pounds of carrot, fruit and green salads will be rolled out by the giant bowlful, more than 100 pounds of dressing have been prepared for the banquet and 100 pounds of potatoes are ready for an early Christmas morning boil.

Three hundred rolls have been donated by local bakeries, and pots of coffee will be kept warm as the giant trays of brownies are being finished.

‘More than enough’

“We have more than enough,” said Hugh Murphy, one of the 60 volunteers who make the feast possible.

“Every person is invited. We don’t ask for anything. We just want people to come down and enjoy with us.”

Early Thursday morning, Murphy joined Bob Goldberg and Bud and Pat Peterson in the kitchen at St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church to carve the turkey and ham that will be reheated before today’s feast.

They all did the same work a month ago, when 350 people showed up for the Thanksgiving day meal. They prepared Christmas dinner last year, and a feast for the Thanksgiving before that.

In fact, they have been making a good, free meal for the community for the past eight years.

“Each time we do this, it’s probably 40 hours of work to get this all ready,” said Bud Peterson, as he carved the dark meat from a turkey leg.

His wife, Pat Peterson, said the volunteers’ hours run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day of the meal.

“We carve beforehand. We come in the day of to prepare, to cook and to serve,” she said.

“Then we go out and deliver meals to people who might be shut in.”

The group has a list of 100 people who will have meals delivered to their homes Christmas night.

“No one goes without if they want it,” said Pat Peterson. “It’s a lot of work. But is it worth it? Yes. Absolutely.”

Goldberg said he cooked the birds and hams Wednesday night, carved them Thursday and promised they would be fresh and warm for this afternoon’s meal.

Goldberg, who has served in the role of volunteer chef for four years, said it’s a system that works well, so he keeps doing it.

“Plus it gives me something to do,” he said, laughing. “Keeps me out of trouble.”

Bud Peterson said they all do it just to have people come down to the feast.

“It’s a good time,” he said. “There is a box for donations when you come in, but we don’t ask for anything.

“It’s all free, so we hope everyone who wants to eat comes on down.”

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Reporter Erik Hidle can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]

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