Norman volunteers prepare to serve massive free Christmas dinner 

Holidays are no time to go hungry, and for 23 years a group of Norman volunteers has ensured that thousands of Oklahomans haven't dined alone on Christmas.

The Christmas Day Community Dinner is served for free 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday inside the Norman High School cafeteria, 911 W. Main. The dinner is open to individuals and families who need a place to eat, or those who just want Christmas company, said organizer Bob Magarian.

The meal is made possible by donations from locals and area businesses, which will be accepted through Friday at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 1601 W. Imhoff. The buffet-style dinner regularly feeds about 1,500, said the church's office manager, Christina Detamore. Turkey and other traditional Christmas food will be served, and Santa Claus will make an appearance.

Organizers will guide kids and families to an onsite Christmas "shop" filled with free items, and are still seeking gloves, socks and scarves for children, teens and adults, as well as adult grooming items. Toys are particularly welcome donations this year, Detamore said.

"In the past, we've had a ton of toys, but there's just not that many so far this year," she said. "We probably have one-tenth of what we had last year."

One thing the dinner has plenty of, however, is volunteers. The Christmas spirit moved many Normanites to sign up to serve and wash dishes and tables, and to help Magarian deliver meals to older and ailing residents unable to leave their homes for the holidays.

For more information, call 321-8951. "Joe Wertz

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