The Hope Eagles are hosting a free community dinner on Dec. 21.

The Hope Eagles are hosting a free community dinner on Dec. 21.

Free dinner an example of “people helping people” in Hope

Christmas dinner for the homeless, and rest of community, on Dec. 21

The doors of the Hope Eagles Hall will be thrown wide open this Saturday evening for a community Christmas dinner.

There will be mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, turkey and stuffing, and desserts galore. And the dinner is free, and open to anyone in the community of Hope.

“Sometimes people just need a hand up,” says Kay Kellum, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Hope. The dinner is designed to give homeless and disadvantaged residents a nice Christmas dinner, and a community event to enjoy. But it’s not just those who show up, Kellum says. Business owners, officials and others have joined in to make the evening special.

“It’s community outreach and everyone is welcome,” she says. “You don’t have to be marginalized whatsoever, and all the (Eagles) members are invited to come for dinner. It’s just sort of a fun night — fun night of outreach.”

They work at collecting good, used clothing, including boots and shoes, and guests are invited to pick through and find suitable items for themselves. And in the event that there are, for example, leftover pieces of pie, the guests are sent home with a bag of food to enjoy later.

Larry Kellum, past president, says one year they fed about 225 people in a night. Last year, the number was 150. But there are often other dinner events going on the same evening, which can affect their numbers.

Still, it takes up to 15 volunteers for the dinner, from the setup and cooking, to serving and cleaning up.

Kay is in charge of finding volunteers this year, and so far she’s signed up a dozen who are willing to serve the community this way. In total, there about 240 members between the regular club and the auxiliary club, and about 30 members are active volunteers.

“We will engage with the people that come and make sure they’re taken care of,” Kay says. “This is a full deluxe turkey dinner, and actually I’m trying right now to organize some christmas carollers to come by.”

The homeless population knows about the dinner, and are told by outreach workers and volunteers from around the community as the date gets closer.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles has been in Hope for more than 40 years and they are one of the stronger clubs in the organization. One year, they managed to donated $56,000 back into the community, and on average they kick back about $30,000. They send youth with diabetes to camps, provide scholarships to graduates, support cancer rides that come through Hope, and donate to youth sports groups throughout the community.

“This is people helping people,” Larry and Kay both tell The Standard.

And that’s what the dinner is all about.

The dinner runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21 in the big hall at 368 Fort Street. Anyone can bring good, used (or new) winter wear to the event to be distributed to the homeless.