Free Christmas dinner continues to grow

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WOODSTOCK -- When Alma businessman Preston Murphy organized a Christmas Day dinner two years ago, he had no idea whether he’d draw 20 or 50 diners so he and a group of volunteers prepared for more.

Eager volunteers showed up at St. Anthony’s Parish Hall on Christmas morning to help with the final preparations for a free meal that afternoon. There were 110 meals, including some take-outs, provided. The many people who dropped by were also treated to an afternoon of live music. The event, now in its third year, continues to grow in attendance and popularity.

Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer

The meal attracted over 80 people that year and even more the second year.

This year Murphy and a small army of volunteers served 110 meals, including takeouts.

Held at St. Anthony’s Parish Hall in Woodstock, meals were provided from noon until about 3:30 p.m. With live music all afternoon.

About a dozen volunteers showed up on Christmas Eve to prepare vegetables. Several volunteers cooked turkeys and other foods at home and brought them t the hall Christmas morning. Close to 40 people helped with the preparations and distribution of the meal.

“It means everything,” Murphy said in describing the joy he gets from helping with the special dinner. Diners were treated to turkey and all the trimmings, salt fish and baked beans. “Everybody’s behind us,” he said of all the people who pitched in to make the meal possible.

Although the meal was provided free of charge, some diners insisted on paying. Murphy said all the money received was treated as a donation for the West Prince Caring Cupboard. Unopened canned goods on hand for the meal were also turned over to the Cupboard.

Geographic location: St. Anthony, Woodstock

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Recent comments

  • Diane Rennie
    January 05, 2014 - 16:59

    The true meaning of Christmas !

  • Debbi McCue
    January 05, 2014 - 10:25

    I think this is such a wonderful thing to do..and I am so proud of all those amazing volunteers!! :)

  • peiman
    January 05, 2014 - 07:40

    What a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas...Thank you Preston and all the volunteers for showing the rest of us what Christmas really means!

  • Joe o 'Meara
    January 05, 2014 - 07:08

    Preston Murphy has to be one of the finest people I've ever known,he would rather give and do without himself,theres not too many around here like him,,I give him praise,hes a good friend of mine.....

  • Karen
    January 05, 2014 - 06:37

    So very proud of everything that Preston and Helen do for so many people in our community. They have the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Great job!!