Annual Gary Christmas dinner celebrates 25 years
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent December 19, 2012 10:34AM
If You Go
What: The Spirit of Christmas 25th/Silver Anniversary Dinner
Where: Ivy Tech Gary Campus building, 1440 E. 35th Avenue in Gary.
When: 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25. Admission is free.
Notes: Volunteers are needed to work 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21 (cooking and kitchen assistance) and 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 (decoration and table settings). Expect to volunteer all day. Call state Rep. Vernon Smith at 805-6040 for details.
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:15AM
GARY — Twenty-five years ago, state Rep. Vernon G. Smith and three of his friends — Gelone Broadnax, Dwight E. Pointer and Joyce Washington-Price — established a free annual Christmas dinner for the community on Christmas Day.
The purpose was to welcome all of those in need to a delicious Christmas dinner and warm fellowship for a few hours before they went home to enjoy their own Christmas dinner with family. This year marks the silver anniversary for the “Spirit of Christmas” dinner and it is still going strong. Smith, Pointer and Washington-Price are still active with the dinner and Smith’s nephew, Dwight A. Williams replaced Broadnax. The dinner honors the memories of Smith’s mother, the Rev. Julia E. Smith and Gary teacher Patricia Tillotson.
“Eventually I hope to have my nephew Dwight take over the Spirit of Christmas dinner and keep the tradition flowing,” Smith said. “It gets harder to get things together and prepare.” Smith added that he expects this year’s dinner to be packed with residents from Gary, Merrillville, Griffith, New Chicago, Lake Station and Hobart. “The annual Harvest Feast I held last month at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church was standing room only. I expect the Christmas dinner to be just as packed,” he said.
The Spirit of Christmas dinner is a dining experience for residents as volunteers wait on them like waiters in a restaurant. Their food trays are loaded with goodies like turkey and dressing, corn pudding, vegetables, yams, macaroni and cheese, rolls, desserts and more.
Smith added that this year he is in dire need of volunteers. “We need volunteers to assist in cooking and preparation and to decorate the dining area at Ivy Tech. We do all of this prior to Christmas Day,” he continued.
Smith added that transportation will be provided for residents if needed and to call Smith at 887-2046 for more information as well as to reserve a place at the dinner.