Annual Christmas Day Dinner Offers Fellowship
WILKES-BARRE — It was a dinner custom-made for people like Ruth Kackauskas.
“I have nobody — my son is out west, my sister is out west — and I feel like some fellowship,” the septuagenarian from Wilkes-Barre said Tuesday after a turkey dinner with all the trimmings at First Presbyterian Church on South Franklin Street.
Kackauskas was among the 100 to 200 attendees of the 41st annual Christmas Together Dinner hosted by the church in coordination with the Commission on Economic Opportunity.
Volunteers delivered another 400 or so meals to people who were unable to attend the community event for various reasons. Volunteers also provided rides for those who wanted to attend but didn’t have their own transportation.
Nancy Frey, one of the co-founders of the dinner along with the Kohl family, said the event started with the goal of making sure no one in the Wyoming Valley would have to be alone on Christmas.
Carolyn Kohl-Falzone took over as head of the kitchen for the dinner after her mother died 14 years ago. She and her brother, Kris Kohl, arrived around 6:30 a.m. to get things rolling.
Many of the volunteers have been attending the dinner for decades.
“Nancy asked me several years ago to volunteer because I don’t have any small children at home and I have nothing to do. So I come out and volunteer because this is such a good cause.” said Toni Mathis of Wilkes-Barre.
A few years ago, Mathis’ daughter and two granddaughters began joining her for the volunteer work, she said.
In addition to roasted turkey, diners enjoyed stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, mixed vegetables, apple pie and pumpkin pie.
They also enjoyed live holiday music with dinner — first from James and Carl Ruck, who performed piano duets, then from a group of musicians from Temple Israel who accompanied Rabbi Larry Kaplan.
Over 100 poinsettias were distributed to attendees as long as supplies lasted.
“It’s a very nice thing that this church does,” Kackauskas said. “Not every church does something like this.”
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