Free Beaver Falls Christmas event expected to draw 1,500
In its 20th year, the free “Christmas Day Meal for the City” sponsored by the Christian Assembly Reaching Everyone ministry in Beaver Falls keeps growing.
About 1,500 people are expected for Wednesday's event in the Beaver Falls High School cafeteria. That's 30 times the number who showed up for the first dinner in 1994.
Homemade roast turkey and baked ham dinners will be served to anyone who wants to attend. Registration is not required.
“The atmosphere is so inviting, and the people are so kind,” said Ruth Ross, 56, of Beaver Falls, who has attended dinners on her own or with friends and neighbors.
“The workers will take breaks and sit down with guests. I never encountered a grouchy person; everyone was so positive. The food was wonderful, and you weren't made to feel as though it's a handout.”
Rebecca Ficca Salopek, cofounder of the event, said many guests are seniors who come with friends. New toys and clothing will be distributed for free at the dinner.
“I never thought it would have grown like this,” Salopek said.
“We never rush people through,” said Dale Russo, pastor of the Christian Assembly of Beaver Falls, where the ministry is based. “We want them to talk and enjoy the food and music.”
Donations from individuals, businesses and churches cover expenses, Salopek said. About 20 to 30 donations are received on the day of the event, with several people bringing envelopes containing small amounts such as $5.
This year's largest donation occurred when Clearview Federal Credit Union gave $2,500 in honor of Salopek winning the credit union's Joseph C. Cirelli Community Service Award.
Christianne Gribben, Clearview's assistant vice president of marketing, said the credit union likes the impact the dinner has had on individuals.
Volunteers will be assigned 90-minute shifts. Sixty churches were represented among last year's 260 workers.
Longtime volunteer Jan Davis, 54, of Beaver Falls, enjoys passing out clothing. One young girl loved a coat so much, she smiled and gave Davis a kiss on the cheek.
“It was very cold,” Davis said. “She came in with a light coat and left with a warm one.
“I'll never forget that.”
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Revamp of old restaurant on tap in Franklin Park
- Alumni organize Edgewood reunion
- Allegheny County sports complex at Montour Junction hits delays
- ‘Deer-proofing’ consultant coming to Mt. Lebanon
- Cabbage contest engages Western Pa. 3rd-graders in gardening
- Neville Island cleanup effort needs volunteers