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December 23, 2012

Community Christmas Dinner set for Tuesday

DUNCAN — People looking for company or dinner on Christmas Day will have a place to go.

Stephens County Christmas Dinner will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center. This is the 24th year for the annual event, which provides Christmas lunch for area residents.

When the dinner started, 440 meals were served. But in more than two decades, that number has grown to 3,278 meals. The dinner is for anyone needing a meal or wanting to share the holiday with others.

“It’s greatly gone up,” Sonny Webb, dinner planning board member, said about the attendance. “We don’t know if we expect more or less this year.”

While the dinner is aimed at feeding area residents, numerous volunteers are needed to make the event run smoothly, Webb said. Although he isn’t sure how many volunteers to expect this year, he said traditionally about 200 volunteers willingly give up their time on Christmas to help with the dinner.

Many of the people who volunteer individually, with groups or are members of the planning board have put in time during previous years for the event. Webb said many of the planning committee members have served on the board since the dinner’s inception.

He said planning for this year’s dinner has just about wrapped, but there is still a need for volunteers. He said the number of volunteers won’t be known until they start showing up Tuesday to help out.

“It’s going really well,” Webb said about the planning process. “We’re just finishing up some stuff right now. We’ve got to know what to do after 24 years.

“We’re been pretty well organized.”

The dinner is a collaborate effort among civic and service groups, and individuals. One example of help the preparation efforts have received include a $100 donation from the Comanche FFA Chapter.

Because numerous people have helped previously on the dinner, Webb said the planning process and the dinner itself usually go smoothly.

Webb said the Fair & Expo Center makes a nice event location because it’s a central location that’s easy for county residents to get to.

“It’s a nice facility,” Webb said.

While there may be some concern for severe weather coming into the area around Christmas Day, Webb said the weather usually doesn’t make a notable impact on the dinner.

When the county was hit by a blizzard Christmas Eve 2009, the dinner actually had more people in attendance than the year before. Webb said people put a lot of importance on the dinner and will make the trip regardless of the weather.

“We’ve had some ice, but it didn’t affect us,” Webb said.

Although some people may dine in for the dinner, people unable to go to the fairgrounds will have the option of having carryouts delivered to them.

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