Baraboo church hosts 15th Christmas meal

December 23, 2018
Volunteers Alice Jensen, left, and Ruth Getsinger serve dessert during last year's Baraboo Area Community Christmas Dinner.

A downtown Baraboo church seeks to feed bodies and souls during its 15th annual free Christmas meal.

Volunteers are expected to serve 300 people Tuesday at First United Methodist Church. Those attending will enjoy a hot and hearty family-style meal from a kitchen staff led by chef Trish Churchill of Devil’s Lake Bistro.

“You meet so many different types of people,” she said. “To me, it’s not work. It’s what I love to do.”

The Baraboo Area Community Christmas Dinner will begin at noon, welcoming all. It will feature turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and casseroles. Churchill said she and husband Brian, the turkey master, employ a secret technique to keep the birds juicy. “We’re kind of joined at the hip for Christmas,” she said.

Pastor Marianne Cotter said opening the doors for Christmas fits the church’s mission. “As a typical downtown church, we are here to serve the community,” she said. “A delicious free meal is served, but just as important is the feeling of community people experience when they come on Christmas day.”

Churchill said she got involved because the crew needed help in the kitchen. But she made it an annual tradition because the event’s spirit of giving and good company puts people in the right holiday mood. “They kind of forget about what the meaning of it is all about,” she said. “It’s in your heart and your soul.”

There is no cost for the meal, but a free-will offering will be taken. Several community organizations, churches and individual volunteers join forces to prepare the meal, as well as set up before and clean up after.

“By sponsoring this event, we give folks an opportunity to feel the joy that comes through serving others,” Cotter said.

“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” Churchill said. “Come down and have a great meal. There will be plenty, for sure.”

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