SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 26, 2013

A meal for many

Food, friends, Christmas cheer at church dinner

DANVERS — Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church again opened its doors to anyone who wanted a free Christmas meal with all the fixings, plus the company of more than 100 “friends.”

It’s the 32nd year the Locust Street church has hosted a Christmas meal, said the meal’s coordinator for the past 12 years, Bob Ferris of Essex. The dinner, which is free and open to all, has grown into an ecumenical event with the Danvers Clergy Association and Temple Beth Shalom in Peabody.

The church was the site of one of several free Christmas meals served across the North Shore yesterday by organizations and churches in Peabody, Salem, Beverly and Lynn.

The church, located in a bucolic part of town, provided an “over the river and through the woods” setting for the early afternoon Christmas with Friends dinner, an event that featured plenty of turkey, ham, trimmings and desserts, along with the singing and playing of Christmas songs.

“Compliments to you all,” said a gentleman who peeked his head into the kitchen as Ferris spoke with a reporter.

Those attending said the meal provides company for those with no family or friends to spend Christmas with, or just a hardy meal to those who cannot afford to cook one. The dinner provides a way for volunteers to give back, and it also provides a warm welcome back to those who have not attended the church in recent years.

Folks came from around the region, many of whom were seniors from Danvers, Beverly and Peabody. Some had other places they could go to spend Christmas, but they said they preferred being at the meal.

“When you are alone, you want to be with people,” said Pauline LeBlanc of Peabody, who has a son who lives in Florida. She is a regular attendee. “I just want to be with people. I’m a people person, you know.”

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