This year’s included in-person dining, delivery and curbside pickup to accommodate community’s various needs
by Jim Boyle
The 33rd annual Community Christmas Dinner served 937 people on Christmas Day.
That included 440 people who came inside to eat, another 135 who came inside to pick up their meals, 162 more meals that were handed out curbside, and 200 meals delivered to people’s homes.
Roger and Irene Kostreba, who have coordinated the community dinner since its inception, said about 200 volunteers helped pull off the event this year, including 75 who showed up the day before to help decorate and begin food preparation.
Local Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops helped out, and one who was too young wanted to do his part. He came with presents to hand out to kids and put under the tree so they could be taken to CAER.
There was caroling, food raffles of whole turkeys and pies, among other things, and lots of fellowship.
A Maple Grove woman came to the American Legion on Saturday with two special needs persons in tow took 10 meals home to an assisted living facility so they too could enjoy a Christmas dinner. She left both grateful and in tears by the generosity of the annual event.
The Kostrebas have always made it clear the dinner is there for anyone who wants to come.
Virginia Barnier, a longtime resident of Elk River, said she was attending the event for the first time.
She commented on how she was amazed by the food and by all the people who were there that she knew. She enjoyed catching up with longtime friends and reminiscing.
Planning for next year’s dinner will start this winter with a party to determine where the sausage for the event will come from next year, Kostreba said. Now that Elk River Meats is closed, Kostreba said they have decided to consider their options. This year’s sausage came from the St. Joseph Meat Market in St. Joseph.