ASHLAND — Those looking for a free holiday meal in town have a remaining option.
Ashland Christian Fellowship will host its annual Christmas meal Friday at the Historic Ashland Armory. Guests can arrive at noon for a traditional feast of turkey and stuffing, potatoes, salad and pie for dessert.
Community Christmas Eve Dinner — The Medford Gospel Mission will hold a free community dinner from 12:30 to 5 p.m. today at the mission, 125 W. Jackson St., Medford. For more information, call 779-1597.
Community Christmas Eve Dinner: Red Rock Italian Eatery will serve a free spaghetti dinner from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the restaurant, 17 W. Fourth St., Medford. For more information, call 773-6840.
Previous years gave Ashland residents other options, including last year's dinner for about 50 at the Bellview Grange. But grange officials said their volunteer force is too thin to hold another feast.
It will be the 30th consecutive year the Ashland Christian Fellowship has put on a holiday meal. The Rev. Luke Frenchette called it "dinner for the whole community" and a chance for members of different groups to come together for an afternoon of food and fun.
"It's definitely something we enjoy doing, something we've seen have a value to the community in the past," Frenchette said. "It takes a lot of energy and effort on our part, but it's well worth it."
Frenchette spent last weekend ordering 360 pounds of turkey from Shop'n Kart and fresh bread from The Apple Cellar. He said based on turnout from previous years, he expects to feed between 800 and 1,000 people on Friday.
Frenchette credited the event's continued success to a dedicated volunteer corps and to hundreds of local residents whose presence each year makes the event a special occasion. He emphasized that everyone in the community, not just those faced with unfortunate circumstances, is invited.
"People in fur coats with nice jewelry are there, and people in hand-me-down coats with no jewelry are there, sitting next to people and sharing a meal," Frenchette said. "For some, it's the only time all year people like that can come together."
The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. Guests can come at any point during that span and expect to leave full and happy, Frenchette said.
"There will just be a steady trickle throughout the day. The line will never be too long," he said. "People can just meander down when they feel like."
The Historic Ashland Armory is at 208 Oak St. Free rides to the Armory can be arranged by calling the Ashland Christian Fellowship at 482-8539.
Elon Glucklich is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact him at email@example.com.