All Invited To Champaign’s Annual Community Christmas Day Dinner

First Christian Church in Champaign.

First Christian Church in SW Champaign will be the site of the annual Community Christmas Dinner.

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

On Christmas Day at 1 PM, an army of volunteers will be serving a community dinner at  Champaign's First Christian Church, and you’re invited. This will be the nin th year for the annual dinner, which involves some 200 volunteers and a ham dinner provided by local businesses and other donors.

Organizer Lynne Barnes says the event provides a festive place for people to enjoy Christmas dinner who would otherwise be alone or without a dinner to share.

“It’s hustle- bustle, and lots of chatter and talking and socializing,” said Barnes, “and people just looking every direction to help and aid and assist others and engage them in conversation.”

Barnes says this year’s dinner will feature 50 hams donated by Carle, 450 rolls, courtesy of the Texas Road House restaurant in Champaign and 70 pies from Meijer.

“And then we have donors that help us,” said Barnes. “And we purchase the rest of the food in bulk. We create the food starting at 8 o’clock in the morning. And we’re ready to serve it by 1 o’clock.”

Barnes says finding the volunteers to staff the Christmas Dinner has been surprisingly easy over the years. And she says the dinner has given her some heartwarming lessons.

“I’ve learned how people enjoy giving back on Christmas Day,” said Barnes. “I’ve learned that when you have enthusiasm and energy around an idea, have a few people who are energetic about an idea, you can about make anything happen.”

Barnes says she expects about 400 people to flock to the First Christian Church in southwest Champaign for the Community Christmas Dinner. Appetizers will be served at 12:30, with dinner being served starting at 1 PM.

It’s all free, but reservations are requested no later than Friday, December 21. Reservations can be made by calling or texting 217-714-7822, or emailing at ; reservations can also be made through the First Christian Church website at .

Story source: WILL