Christmas cheer and volunteers

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Bonnie Cochran removes plastic wrap from a pair of pies before a Christmas dinner at Christ Episcopal Church on Christmas Day. Cochran was one of the volunteers who spent the holiday helping others. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Buffalo Wild Wings was closed for business Tuesday, but the kitchen wasn't empty. Owner Bill Zellmer was busy training six workers and overseeing the production of 3,500 wings.

Volunteers scurried around the kitchen, transferring wings from the deep fryer to buckets, drenching the wings with honey barbecue sauce, and packaging the food into Styrofoam containers for delivery.

About 80 people spent the afternoon taking the wings to fire and police stations, hospitals, nursing homes, theaters, and convenience stores -- anywhere there might be people working Christmas Day.

This is the fifth year La Croix United Methodist Church has sponsored the event.

"It's just a great way to serve the community and share the love of Christ with those working during the holiday," said assistant pastor Daniel Taylor.

The Rev. Bob Towner helped prepare some of the food for a Christmas dinner at Christ Episopal Church on Tuesday. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Zellmer, a member of the church, said the first year he donated the wings about 300 people were served. This year the volunteers fed 900.

"It's a tangible way to give back to the community," he said.

Elsewhere in the area, churches served dinner to those in need and volunteers donated their time.

Dressed as Santa, Gary Klym visited the pediatric wings of hospitals to bring toys and a message of hope to sick children. He also took Christmas dinner to shut-ins in trailer parks.

Cathy Maya, of Cape Girardeau, said she has no family in the area, so she decided to spend the day helping those less fortunate.

Christmas morning was spent walking and feeding the animals at Safe Harbor shelter. In the evening she helped clean after a dinner held at Christ Episcopal Church.

"It's a great time to serve," she said.

Christ Episcopal Church fed turkey, ham and chicken to in-patient women at the Family Counseling Center. Women typically stay at the center for one to three months while undergoing treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.

For the last five years, the Rev. Bob Towner has helped organize a dinner for the women and their families going through the 12-step process.

Red tablecloths and poinsettias decorated the decidedly comfortable atmosphere.

Wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and Crocs shoes, Towner welcomed the guests to the church.

He made the gravy himself, and the rest of the food was provided by volunteers.

"Having been in a position to receive before, when we can give back we do," said Linda Royce, who helped set up the tables and serve the meal.

Dan Johnson, another volunteer, said he was impressed by the sincerity and commitment of the women to change their lives.

"Going through treatment can be transforming," he said.

lbavolek@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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