Event provides hundreds of meals in Scottsbluff this holiday season

December 23, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Since 2003, Christmas Dinner in the Valley has been serving up meals, kindness and good conversation.

The church and its many volunteers are preparing to serve 900 meals on Christmas Day to those who need one in their new church building. When the event began 15 years ago, about 400 people were served. At the time, there wasn’t a social component to the meal, but, over time, people found they wanted to be around other people on Christmas and the meal was the perfect opportunity for that to happen.

Larry Massie, event co-organizer, said it doesn’t matter whether the economy is doing well or not, the needy will always be among us. The dinner is one way individuals can help others in the community who may have been affected by the economy.

The meal is free, open to the public and consists of baked ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, seasoned green beans, applesauce, roll, milk, coffee and a variety of pies.

For those who cannot make it are not forgotten. Meals are also delivered to people’s homes.

“When we can, we spend some time with them,” Massie said. “We try to maintain relationships (with them) throughout the year.”

Massie said many of the volunteers have become acquainted with the people they make deliveries to and will check on their welfare to see how they are doing.

“It’s not a matter of feeding people for one meal,” he said. “We try to keep an eye open for people who need a support system of some kind and to let them know they are valuable and people care about them.”

Melissa Turman, co-organizer, said she is looking forward to a new opportunity to serve people in the new church. Members have been busy trying to get the word out about the change in venue this year.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity,” she said. “It will be a new opportunity and we will see how it goes.”

Turman spends most of her day working behind the scenes with making sure all the deliveries have been made. She doesn’t often see the faces of those who come in for a meal, but she sees the names of the people and recognizes many who receive a meal every year.

“We know there are people who need a meal and we can step up and provide that,” she said.

Sometimes, six meals are delivered at once and Turman knows an entire family has been served. It’s the single delivery, however, that tugs at her heart, especially the names she has seen before.

“We get to see them again and know that they will see at least one other person that day,” she said. “It’s satisfying.”

Now in her seventh year of volunteering, Turman said spending Christmas Day helping others is worth it.

“I love every year I get to do it and look forward to it,” she said. “It’s this joy that comes from serving and setting yourself aside for a little bit of time.

Massie has been helping with the dinner since it began and keeps returning because of the degree of joy he gets from helping others.

“I’m blessed more than others by this,” he said. “This is something the Lord has placed my heart and desire to do and I’m grateful for who our Lord is.”

Turman said as a follower of Jesus Christ, she is called to love others. The meal provides an opportunity to show that love in action for her by meeting the needs of people around her.

Regardless of whether they come in person or have a meal delivered, there are repeat customers and Massie is happy for that. He is happy to reach out and share his heart for his Lord.

“I can’t explain why I do this anymore,” he said. “I’d be empty without it and less without it.”

The event is always happy to take more volunteers. Anyone can help with setup, cleanup or with deliveries. If you would like to volunteer to deliver meals, contact the church either via their website or by phone to register.

Dinner will be served on Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Harvest Valley Church, 743 Winter Creek Dr.

For more information on volunteering, or to sign up to have a meal delivered, visit the Christmas Dinner in the Valley page at harvestvalleychurch.com or call 308-633-2999.

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