State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) said free transportation is available for the 28th Annual Spirit of Christmas Dinner, but that reservations need to be made as soon as possible.
The dinner will be held Dec. 25, from 1-4 p.m., inside the Genesis Convention Center, 1 Genesis Center Plaza in Gary.
“Planning is a significant part of the Spirit of Christmas Dinner,” explained Dr. Smith. “It is not only making sure we have enough food as well as tables and chairs and dinnerware, but it is also making sure we are prepared for those who need a ride to the event. It is free transportation to and from the event, but we need to know who needs a ride in advance so we can make out a schedule and ensure we have enough vehicles available.
“We certainly don’t want anyone, especially our senior citizens, walking long distances, since many do not have cars or the ability to drive anymore” continued Dr. Smith. “Even though it is going to be mild and fairly warm this year on Christmas Day, we would rather run the transportation service than risk anyone getting hit by a car or falling and getting injured. Please just give me a call so we may reserve a ride for you.”
Dr. Smith said he would like to thank the many people who called to volunteer. He deeply appreciates their generosity of time and talent to make the Spirit of Christmas a success. He said he still needs financial donations and is thankful for offerings of any size.
To schedule transportation and to reserve a place for dinner, call Dr. Smith at 887-2046. Those who wish to donate 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 people to share a delicious meal.
Dr. Smith hosts the dinner with Joyce Washington-Price, Dwight Williams and Robin Burnel. 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 and Ms. Tillotson passed in 1997.