Community Christmas dinners feed nearly 1,000

Nearly 1,000 community members came together on Christmas to share dinner at two Ashland feasts.

They gobbled up more than 400 pounds of turkey, 12,000 servings of mashed potatoes and 100 pumpkin pies at the Historic Ashland Armory on the north end of town and the Bellview Grange on the south end.

"Every ounce of stress and work that went into it was worth it, to see it succeed the day of," said Luke Frechette, an associate pastor at Ashland Christian Fellowship, the group that organized the Armory event.

About 150 volunteers served 800 dinners between noon and 4 p.m. at the Armory during the 29th annual dinner, Frechette said Friday.

"There were people with no homes and people with large homes, people with no family and people who brought their whole family and they were all there centered around Jesus' birthday, celebrating together," he said.

Immediately following that meal, 100 others ate at a potluck at the Grange, which hosted the same number for Christmas Eve dinner, said Elanah Whitenight, who organized both gatherings. About 500 total attended holiday activities at the Grange last week, she said.

"It was so incredibly successful," Whitenight said Friday. "It's like, this is the definition of warm and fuzzy: the way that you feel when you see all those people there and see them standing around the food and we're all holding hands. The grace of the universe was just abundant."

Both organizers said about the same number of people attended their Christmas meal as in 2007.

As they did last year, volunteers at the Grange picked up leftovers from the first Dec. 25 meal, enabling everyone at the second feast "to have as much turkey as they wanted," Whitenight said.

Ashland Christian Fellowship also donated some extra food to community gatherings in Medford and delivered 30 meals to homebound Ashlanders, Frechette said.

Friday afternoon he was already beginning to write thank you notes to volunteers and supporters of the meal.

"What I'm working on now is one of my most favorite parts of the Christmas dinner. I'm just so thankful for all the help we had and I'm extending that thanks to people," he said.

Meanwhile, Whitenight was just getting out of bed Friday afternoon after having stayed up until 1:30 a.m. cleaning the Grange with other volunteers, she said.

"Feeding people is a big part of what the Grange does. We realize that there's a lot of very sacred energy about people eating together," she said.

Staff writer Hannah Guzik can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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