As a member of the Amherst Community Christmas Dinner organizing committee, Prager saw several months of planning and preparation come to a successful conclusion on Thursday.
“It went very, very well,” Prager said as the last meals were being served. “The numbers were down just a little bit from last year, but it was very steady all afternoon.”
Prager said 66 volunteers gave up several hours in the days leading up to Christmas Day and during the dinner itself. She said there were greeters at the door, people preparing the meals for both those in attendance and for takeouts that were taken to police, fire, the hospital and EHS personnel working during the day.
The youngest volunteer was 10 years old and the volunteers came from community organizations, churches and from the Amherst area.
“The number of volunteers and the donations we received shows so much about the community, it has really gotten behind this event,” Prager said. “The support has been wonderful and without all these people it couldn’t have been done.”
Volunteer Janet Dale said her husband, Brian, and son, Matthew, were pleased to be able to help out. It was their first time volunteering for the dinner and she said they would definitely be back next year.
“We talked about doing it last year but it wasn’t the right time, but this year we said we were definitely going to do it,” Dale said. “It’s something different and we enjoyed it a lot. What makes it special is that everyone is from every walk of life and we’re all elbow to elbow and shoulder to shoulder helping out. Some people may come in a little bit sad, but they’re all leaving with smiles on their faces.”
Scott Rayworth said this is the fourth dinner he has come to.
“It’s a chance to get out on Christmas and share a nice meal with the community,” said Rayworth. “The music is great to listen to and the food couldn’t be better.”
As in other years, Barry Patriquin and friends came together to provide the entertainment. One of the more popular acts was Johnny Martin’s rendition of Mustang Sally.
Among the volunteers was Deputy Mayor George Baker.
“It’s so nice to see this happening in Amherst,” he said. “Other communities do this, but this group of volunteers needs to be congratulated for giving up their Christmas year after year to help others. They’ve done an amazing job. So many things in our community wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for volunteers.”