This Christmas will mark the 30th anniversary for the Spirit of Christmas Dinner. State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) said free transportation will be available for the popular event, but reservations need to be made as soon as possible.
The annual dinner will be held on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, from 1-4 p.m., inside the Genesis Convention Center, 1 Genesis Center Plaza in Gary.
Reservations for the buses are necessary for planning to ensure sufficient transportation for those who need it.
Dr. Smith said donations are still needed to cover the cost of the meal, gifts and other event expenses. He said he also greatly appreciates the generosity of time and talent by the volunteers. Dr. Smith added that there is still a need for more volunteers. Without them, he said the dinner would not be possible.
Dr. Smith mentioned there is a need for cooks on Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. On Saturday, volunteer decorators are needed from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. On Christmas day, volunteers, aged 18 and older, will be needed to assist with the dinner and other aspects of the event. The volunteer shift that day will be from noon-6 p.m.
To schedule transportation and to reserve a place for dinner, call Dr. Smith at 219-887-2046. Those who wish to make a donation may call the same number.
The event is primarily for those who live in Gary, Merrillville, Griffith, New Chicago, Lake Station, and Hobart. However, Dr. Smith said everyone is welcome, especially those who are poor and hungry, senior citizens, and anyone who is alone on Christmas Day and wants to be with friendly, welcoming people to share a delicious, holiday meal on this blessed day.
Dr. Smith hosts the dinner with Joyce Washington-Price, Dwight Williams and Robin Bernal. The event is held in memory and honor of Dr. Smith’s mother, the Rev. Julia E. Smith, former pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, and former Gary School Corporation educator Patricia Tillotson. Rev. Smith died in 1991. Ms. Tillotson passed in 1997.