Congregation member Tim Guinn, left, shares a laugh with Tom Ward at the Faith Lutheran Church free Christmas dinner Thursday. The congregation hosted the dinner, which was open to the public.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Congregation member Tim Guinn, left, shares a laugh with Tom Ward at the Faith Lutheran Church free Christmas dinner Thursday. The congregation hosted the dinner, which was open to the public.

Despite low turnout, Christmas dinner a success for local church

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Donna Hall makes her way through the dinner line at Faith Lutheran Church's free Christmas dinner Thursday.

Craig resident Tom Ward finished his plate of turkey, mashed potatoes and a roll Thursday afternoon, and he then made the rounds inside Faith Lutheran Church, chatting up others on a cold, snowy Christmas Day.

After that, he went to the food table for seconds.

His opinion of the church's Christmas dinner for people with nowhere else to go on the holiday?

It's good to be with others, and it's good to have a home-cooked meal.

"Oh, yes," said Ward, 68, who lives alone. "People here are so friendly. They always introduce themselves. And it's nice just getting a good meal."

Ward was one of a few people who came for a holiday meal to the church, 580 Green St., which hosted the Christmas Day dinner for the first time.

The event was an idea from Denise Schroeder and her seventh-grade daughter, Tiarra Schroeder, who are congregation members. Mother and daughter had planned to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Denver for the holiday.

Instead, they decided to do something for others locally.

Congregation members rallied around the cause, preparing food at home and bringing it to the church Thursday.

Denise said she was slightly disappointed with the small turnout, but she was pleased the church could provide a place for people on the holiday.

"I think whenever you do something for the first time, you don't expect a big turnout," she said. "But that's OK. Everybody is going to eat and be happy."

Congregation members prepared enough food for 60 people. Love INC of the Yampa Valley, a local nonprofit agency, provided four turkeys for the dinner, and the congregation pitched in with a few hams, and numerous side dishes and pies.

Faith Lutheran Church pastor John Turner credited the charitable, holiday meal to the giving spirit of local community members.

"There's a lot of different hands involved. A lot of different people converge and then, it happens," he said. "One of the nice things about Craig is people stepping up. You wring your hands and pace for no reason."

Turner said it's likely the church would make the holiday meal offering an annual event.

"Some of the folks mentioned this might be something we should do all the time," he said. "So, maybe we'll do it again next year."

That's agreeable to the event's creators - Denise and Tiarra - and certainly to Ward.

"Oh, yes," he said, in between bites, when asked whether he'd be back next year. "Absolutely."

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