Churches provide dinner, essentials to those in need

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Two community Christmas meals were held in Marshall over the weekend.

For the 32nd Christmas in a row, Boy Scout Troop 20 in Waite Park put on a free Christmas dinner in the basement of Saint Joseph Catholic Church. Over the years and through the word of mouth, many people have come to the church just to spend their Christmas Day with others.

"Holidays are a special time of year, and that's when you reflect on those who are no longer here", she said.

Both meals have become holiday traditions for community members. "It's important for people to feel good about a meal and companionship on Christmas Day", said Nancy Frey, a co-founder of the event who has participated in all 40 years of meals.

"We figured that, since I'm here, we might as well combine them", said Cindy Austin of Esther's Kitchen.

Food sits in warming trays until it is served at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Alton.

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It's a dinner that organizer Sharon Kyser said gets bigger every year, feeding over 200 people.

"I'm hoping they'll eat with their family", Rather explained.

"It's wonderful", Joseph said.

For those that couldn't attend the meal, Pastor Chris and her son packed up almost 30 meals and delivered them to members in the community.

"It doesn't happen without all those people", Wyatt said. The community is a family, and everyone was welcome at the dinner.

Linda Joseph, the president of the Rolling Mill Hill Residents' Association, was volunteering at her first one on Monday.

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"Seeing friends and just being in the community", Janzen says, between bites, makes his Christmas.

Graves said the church has expanded upon its worship services in trying to help the community of Huntington with various ministries. Graves says multiple partnerships make the outreach effort possible.

She says people are so appreciative whenever they drop off a meal.

"We started talking about this Christmas Eve, last Christmas Eve". The mix of guests - young and old, rich and poor, black and white - is what makes this event "the most awesome dinner of the year", Lingenfelser said.

"There were a bunch of people who thought people were alone on Christmas, and that must be pretty hard for them.it's a lonely time", she explained.

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