State College

State College church opens doors for Christmas meal

Rick Spangler places silverware in preparation for the Christmas Day dinner at the State College Presbyterian Church.
Rick Spangler places silverware in preparation for the Christmas Day dinner at the State College Presbyterian Church.

The State College Presbyterian Church began decorating on Saturday for a Christmas Day dinner, but preparation for the meal started more than a month ago.

The holiday feast features turkey, which is paired with traditional side dishes and desserts. The church extended the invitation to everyone, free of charge, and anticipates about 200-350 people from 3-6 p.m. Monday. Greg Elliott, coordinator of the event, said that the church is also flexible in terms of transportation to the dinner.

Those who do not have transportation to the church can call the church office and request that someone picks them up and brings them to the church. Elliott also said that the church is prepared to deliver meals to those who are unable to travel due to a variety of circumstances.

“We have a fella in charge of our deliveries, John Marsden, and he — for the last month probably — has been taking calls,” Elliot said. “He arranges meals to be delivered to those folks. We get volunteer drivers and they’ll drive meals to folks or they will give people transportation to the church and rides home. Public transportation is a little shoddy on holidays.” .

Elliott said home-deliveries vary each year, but the church delivered about 40-50 meals last year. In addition to the deliveries, Elliott said people at the church will often take a meal home, whether it be for themselves or someone who could not attend.

Elliott, who has coordinated or participated in the event for the past 18 years, said the church is preparing 21 turkeys — roughly 400 pounds — to feed the Christmas crowd. There will also be 30 potato casseroles, 216 pounds of green beans, 20 apple pies and much more.

“It’s really about opening our doors to folks who don’t have a place to be Christmas Day,” Elliot said. “Westminster Hall has turned into your grandmother’s living room. Everybody has dinner and then everybody hangs out in there and has their dessert and their coffee and spends Christmas day together with a hundred of your closest friends.”

There are about 120 volunteers, not including those who help with food, that make the dinner a reality.

“I’m proud of this congregation for doing this every year,” Elliot said. “It’s a disruption to our normal routines and there are a lot of people that spend their own time leading up to this dinner.

“Roasting 21 turkeys is not insignificant and we ask them to roast it, carve it and bring it in. Christmas Day is a day that people typically spend with their families and play with their toys, but they take time out of that day to come here and serve other people. I worry every year that it won’t come together, but it always does.”

If you go

What: Christmas meal

Where: State College Presbyterian Church, 132 W. Beaver Ave.

When: 3-6 p.m. Monday