MASSENA - It was only an hour into the Gerald R. Roy Amvets Post 4 community Christmas dinner on Tuesday afternoon and the plates were already flying off the shelves.
Its just shy of an hour and weve gone way over 200, Commander Francis Bud Byington said.
The post had served 343 people last Christmas, he said, and they set up for 350 this year. And, after the first hour, the diners were still coming in to eat at tables set up at the post or leave with a take-out meal.
Weve had a lot of takes-outs, 130-some. Weve still got two hours to go, Mr. Byington said.
Among the deliveries were 27 meals were to residents of Laurel Terrace and 10 meals to Grasmere. Other complete dinners were sent to the Valehaven Home for Adults.
The dinner is organized by the Amvets, their Auxiliary and the Sons of Amvets. Auxiliary member Grace Cashman said at least 35 volunteers stepped forward to help out this holiday season, whether it was preparing for the meal or serving or delivering it on Christmas Day. They began volunteering three or four weeks ago, according to Mr. Byington.
We had four high school students yesterday (Christmas Eve) who helped with the preparations. They did the tables and the cranberries, Ms. Cashman said. I have more volunteers this year than Ive ever had, which is good.
Altogether, the Amvets had 25 turkeys and 150 pounds of potatoes, along with squash, dressing, dinner rolls and pies to serve to guests.
I started cooking the turkeys Sunday, Ms. Cashman said. Paul Pelletier came in and sliced every one of the turkeys.
Members of the Sons of Amvets, meanwhile, peeled the 150 pounds of potatoes and also took care of the squash.
Among those who manned the serving line on Tuesday were Kiernan ODonnell, JoAnn Skowronek, Hope Janelle Berninghausen and Gary Paradise.
Its my first year. I have the time now, Mr. Paradise said, noting he would be celebrating Christmas at his stepdaughters home later in the afternoon.
Some of the volunteers traveled to Massena to help out, including Mark, Barbara, Hope Janelle and Marshall Berninghausen and Kim and Jordan Toomey from Brasher Falls.
It was my wifes idea to come here, Mark said.
Last year we went to Ogdensburg. We heard there was one here this year, Barbara said. We had a good time last year, so everybody decided they wanted to come again.