The Lewis County Senior Center doors were open on Christmas, enabling many members of the community to stop by for a meal and fellowship served and organized by volunteers.
The annual community tradition got its start from two local men, Paul Titus and Tom Fealy, who recognized a need in the community. It started out as a meal in Fealy’s barbour shop in the early 1980s, but quickly outgrew the venue. Volunteers still plan and organize the event every year, but some of the busiest days for them is Christmas Day and the weekend leading up to it.
“I get a blessing coming here and doing these meals every day, and knowing that someone can come and have a meal,” said Ella Clem, an organizer.
Organizer Dan Mick said the volunteers served 900 meals, including approximately 800 deliveries.
“We were overwhelmed,” Mick said. “The first order was 40 meals. We had 94 go to one apartment building in town. Other than being overwhelmed with the amount of carryouts and deliveries, everything was so great, phenomenal. The volunteers were super.”
The dinner is staffed entirely by volunteers and paid for through donations. Mick said volunteers help in the kitchen, lobby and with delivery. Those who participate regularly say it’s a very rewarding experience.
“Several people work very hard toward this one day a year,” said volunteer Stephen Weaver. “Some have suggested that we should spend our day with family, and we get to do that, but in a season that represents giving—and as exhausted as I feel at the end of the day—I can’t honestly think of anything I’d rather be doing than helping to serve others. It’s one very full and very satisfying day, and I love being a part of that.”
Mick, who formerly ran the Weston KFC, said he first got involved in the dinner when Titus approached him in the 80s to ask that he make mashed potatoes and biscuits for the event.
Traditional Christmas trimmings are on the menu each year, including turkey and ham. Pies, cake and cookie donations are dropped off at the Senior Center, as well. The Jane Lew Volunteer Fire Department and its Women’s Auxilliary prepare the turkeys.
Department president J.M. Oldaker said the dinner isn’t just for those who need a meal, but for those who need camaraderie. He said some come to eat and talk to people, and sometimes, these people don’t have someone to be with on Christmas. Mick said a family member could have passed away or they could live too far from those they love.
To assist in making the dinner a success for next year, consider a monetary donation. Make checks payable to: Lewis County Christmas Dinner and mail them to P.O. Box 1012, Weston, WV 26452.