The Salvation Army Christmas Dinner has an incredibly amazing history

For many of us, Christmas is a time for family and friends and a whole lot of love. 

But that isn’t the case for some. There are people who spend the holidays completely alone. 

Well the Salvation Army and the Congregation Sons of Israel want to change that. 

On Christmas Day, the Salvation Army building will be open from noon to 2 p.m. to serve meals to anyone who would like one. Dedicated volunteers will also be delivering meals to those who can’t get out from 10 to 11:30 a.m. 

The Congregation Sons of Israel is also looking for gifts to be handed out to people who may not receive any other present this year.  

Lynne Newman, Chambersburg resident, has been coordinating this event for decades. She said, “I’m a member of the Congregation Sons of Israel. I’m Jewish. Members of our congregation, maybe 40 years ago, offered to make Christmas dinner so that Salvation Army employees would be home with their family on Christmas. The gentleman who started Dr. Hilliard Himelfarb and his family, after a number of years, contacted the board of the synagogue and said, maybe somebody else could take it over. I won’t go into what happened other than to say somehow or other without my meaning it, I got in charge. This is my 36th year.” 

Volunteers are definitely needed. 

Newman said, “We serve, not only in the Salvation Army building, we deliver. We deliver to Office of Aging, and Meals on Wheels clients because they don’t get anything. Last year, we served close to 800 people. For that amount of people, you need a lot of volunteers. We need people to help cook. Last year I made 30 turkeys. I made homemade stuffing and I used 60 loaves of bread. We need people to help cook and to do almost everything to deliver, to wrap presents. We need presents donated. We need money donated because I just don’t want to use any of Salvation Army’s food because they need it for their everyday work and we’re just doing this once a year and I don’t want to impinge upon what they have to use their stuff for. So all the food we get is donated, other than turkeys. We do it in the Salvation Army lunchroom. That’s where we do the cooking, the wrapping, the feeding, everything emanates from there.”

There were probably close to 200 volunteers last year. 

Newman explained, “I don’t like to send more than three meals per delivery person. The object is and I say this really strongly, the object is not just to bring them a meal and thrust it in their door and say hi, Merry Christmas. The object is to say, oh, look, you got to present. I wonder what it is? So that they can open it in front of someone because that’s more fun and they know that people care. I got a call from a guy who said to me after the meal, he said the photo album I got was the only present I got this Christmas. He was crying and I just cried right with him. Christmas is such a family oriented event. It is people being together and loving each other, exchanging presents just because they want to give something to someone. So all of that is what we try to incorporate into what we’re doing with people that we don’t really know, but we still want them to celebrate.”

For more information or to help, call 717-263-2151 or 717-360-2407.

Newman said, “I’ve had people delivering for years and years because they enjoy it so much. I encourage people to bring their children to volunteer. It’s a great way for kids to see how much fun it is to help others and to give, rather than to get. We have jobs that they can do delivering food. I have parents who bring their two or three year old kids in their arms and walk around with them and help them serve drinks or desserts.”

There’s also entertainment during dinner. 

Newman said, “I love it when choirs come in and sing during dinner. I love to bring in a minister who wants to come in and do a prayer before the dinner starts, that would be wonderful. It’s a Christian holiday. I want it to be that for the people who come. Whether I celebrate Christmas or not, has nothing to do with it. It is what everybody else celebrates. We need all the help we can get to get the word out. Tell people, tell your friends, tell everybody. Anybody can call me. There are times when I’ve got four or five phone calls, two phones in my ears and I love that. Please, if you need a meal, call. I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, what you are. If you’re alone on Christmas and you want a meal, call me. I will make sure you get one.”

Call 717-263-2151 or 717-360-2407 for a meal or to help.