By Mike Pound
I wasn’t surprised Monday to get an email from Stephanie Everitt about First Community Church’s annual Christmas Dinner for Others.
If the 2011 tornado that severely damaged the church wasn’t enough to force the congregation to cancel the dinner last year, it stood to reason that another one would be held this year.
Stephanie is married to Jim Everitt. They are among the 40 or 50 church volunteers who help serve the Christmas meal, which is now in its 38th year. When I chatted with Jim about this time last year, contractors had only recently turned the church’s Fellowship Hall back over to the members after months of repair work. At the time, Jim told me that the workers did a “yeoman’s job” getting the hall repaired in time for the Christmas dinner, and he also said that had been the plan since the night of the tornado.
“There had to be a 37th dinner,” is what Jim told me last year.
In her email Monday, Stephanie said that after 19 months of restoration, the church at 2007 E. 15th St. is finally able to hold services in the sanctuary. Stephanie said a rededication ceremony for the new sanctuary was held Sunday, Dec. 2.
“It is now time to start planning for our 38th Annual Christmas Dinner for Others,” Stephanie said in her email.
That’s the neat thing about folks in this area: They don’t spend much time twiddling their thumbs. By the way, I’m a great thumb twiddler. I think that comes from spending a lot of time on the bench when I played high school basketball. When it came to bench-sitting during a basketball game, thumb twiddling and knuckle cracking were the two most popular activities on my high school team.
Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of bench-sitters in the Joplin area. Folks in Joplin, instead of sitting on the bench, choose to get involved. They clean up, they rebuild and they reach out to others.
Some of that may be because folks in this area have seen so many people from outside of Joplin show up to help, but a lot of it, I think, is because we are fairly decent people.
We just finished a presidential election that supposedly showed us to be a sharply divided nation. I guess, on one level, that may be true. But I don’t know. I happen to know several people who attend First Community Church, and I know that those people are on opposite sides of the political world from me, but in the real world — in the human world — those people are on the same side.
Stephanie mentioned, in her email, that the annual Christmas dinner is very important to the members of First Community Church.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community as our name implies,” Stephanie wrote.
In the past, 650 to 800 meals have been served up at the Christmas dinner. Last year, Jim told me that each volunteer’s day begins very early and doesn’t end until very late, and when the day is finally over, everyone is exhausted.
“We’ll be so tired we won’t think we can crawl home, but we’ll also have a good feeling,” Jim said.
The Christmas Dinner for Others is open to anyone looking for a nice meal on Christmas Day. The dinner will include ham, turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, salad, green beans, and desserts. It will be served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Those who need a meal to be delivered or picked up at the church may call the church at 417-781-1800 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, and from 8 a.m. until noon Monday, Dec. 24.
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