It takes an entire community to pull off a community Christmas dinner of the scale that the Pittsburg Presbyterian Church coordinates, but the tradition continues to grow each year.
"We served a little over 500 meals," said K.O. Noonoo, the church’s pastor. "You get a cross-section of the community."
He said approximately 240 meals were delivered around the community to a variety of households, including people who were home alone and couldn’t get out, people who ordered the dinner for their families and people who would have been hungry otherwise.
Those who attended the dinner brought the same sort of diversity, including people who didn’t have family in town, some who were there to serve and some who would have been hungry otherwise.
Noonoo said the tradition was one he was familiar with from a previous congregation, but it started when a matriarch within the church brought up the idea.
"It started out really coming out as a need for those of us who were new in town wanting to have a meal together," he said, adding that the first year was sort of a potluck and it grew a bit the second year, eventually blossoming into a major community outreach endeavor. "It slowly identified itself."
Noonoo said the event relies heavily on strong volunteers including having someone who knows what they are doing and how to delegate in the kitchen and fostering good relationships within the community.
"We borrow resources from everywhere we an find them," he said, adding that he worked with Via Christi, National Honor Society and other organizations and groups to round up volunteers.
Volunteers showed up joyfully, eager to participate.
"Because I have a heart for the people out in the world to let them know the church loves them," said Victor Snow, who, along with his wife, ministers at the Hispanic Church on W. Euclid.
Dillon Williams kept busy loading food for deliveries, but said he has been a part of the project since his dad was a part of bringing it about.
"My dad actually started this about three years ago," Williams said.
The dinner also is an annual activity for Noonoo’s family.
"It’s come to be part of our family tradition," said Anna Noonoo, who helped out Wednesday along with the couple’s three children.
Many others also helped with hospitality, cooking or meal delivery throughout the week.
"We really tried to open it up so at the end of the day we could say, ‘We did this together,’" Noonoo said. "We have found it very life-giving."
"This community is amazing in its ability to come together to do something," Noonoo said. "Thank the community for their generosity and willingness to participate."