By Jan Worth-Nelson
The Genesee County Bar Association and the Genesee Bar Foundation are offering their 29th annual free turkey dinner with all the trimmings from 4-7 p.m. Thursday Dec. 19 at the Flint Masonic Temple, 755 S. Saginaw St.
If the Community Holiday Dinner is like previous years, event planners expect to feed more than 1,000 diners. The Temple Dining Room’s Battiste family donate their labor and members from the two sponsoring groups pay for the food. The bar association hires MTA buses to get people to and from the shelters.
The event also will feature free gifts, free photos, free books, and an appearance by Santa Claus. The sponsors give out hats, mittens, scarves, socks, blankets, and other cold-weather gear.
Nobody will have to wait outside for the feast, planners stated. A warming center will be available at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church directly next door to the Masonic Temple. The warming center, complete with holiday music, will open at 3 p.m.
The holiday dinner makes use of more than 150 volunteers, according to volunteer coordinator Linda Pohly.
“We recruit volunteers to handle the food service, the table busing, to assist our guests through the line — many of them come with children, some babes in arms, and all of them have coats to wrangle — to get people through the Santa line, take the pictures, give each kid a gift and give each kid a book,” Pohly said.
She says in addition to lawyers, quite a few high school students help out.
“Someone has to carry all of the food from the kitchen upstairs to the auditorium, and that takes lots of stamina and good knees,” Pohly said.
Chairperson of the event, and its “beating heart,” according to Pohly, is Brian Barkey, who has run the event for its entire 29 years.
“The holiday dinner is exhausting, but great fun, and it absolutely helps focus on community and what is important,” Pohly said. “I am very glad and proud to be involved.”
— EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.