Christmas Day meal aims to nourish the body and soul

Donations are being sought to support effort led by Refuel Washougal and Calvary Church

timestamp icon
category icon News
In December 2015, nearly 100 people turned out for the free Christmas Day dinner in Washougal. Santa Claus also handed out presents to kids and adults. The free holiday meals and gifts will be provided again this year on Sunday, Dec. 25, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the Washougal Community Center, 1681 "C" St. (Post-Record file photo)

A program that provided food, friendship and respite to nearly 100 people on Christmas Day in 2015, will return again in 2016.

A free community dinner, served restaurant style, is being organized as part of a partnership between Camas’ Calvary Community Church outreach program and Refuel Washougal. It will be held Sunday, Dec. 25, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the Washougal Community Center.

Mike and Michele Gregson lead Calvary’s outreach program. They were inspired to help continue the positive impact the Christmas meal had on the community last year.

“We have a large homeless population that are in need of Christmas cheer,” Michele Gregson said. “Our biggest fear is that someone will be alone and hungry on Christmas Day, and that is not a good feeling.”

The dinner will include roast beef and ham, with vegetables, potatoes, salad, bread rolls, and pie for dessert. Santa Claus will stop by for a visit to hand out a variety of gifts to children and adults.

Second Annual Refuel Washougal Christmas Dinner

The dinner will be held Sunday, Dec. 25, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the Washougal Community Center, 1681 “C” St.

Members of Calvary Community Church’s outreach group will be picking up donations on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Contributions can also be dropped off at Calvary Community Church, 2717 N.E. Third Ave., during office hours, which are Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Food items needed for the meal include beef roasts, hams, au gratin potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad with dressings, frozen vegetables, canned green beans, rolls and pies, in addition to milk, juice, coffee, hot cocoa and hot apple cider.

Gifts will be distributed to all ages. Donations could include toys for boys and girls of all ages; gift cards, headphones, art kits and makeup for teens; and gift cards, socks, shirts, jackets, hats, slippers, and body wash sets for adults.

For more information, contact Michele Gregson at 281-1125 or Amy Smith at 241-4640.

Food donations are needed to support the holiday meal, in addition to contributions of unwrapped toys for boys and girls, and gifts for teens and adult men and women. Money is also accepted.

“Mike and I plan to go buy whatever food is not donated after Dec. 21,” Gregson said. “We will use the monetary donations to purchase the food and gifts that we need in order to provide everyone with a gift and a hot meal.”

Volunteers are being sought to help wrap gifts and decorate the community center on Friday, Dec. 23, starting at 6:30 p.m., and to help out with cooking and serving on the day of the community dinner. Gregson said volunteers can lend a hand for one hour or five hours, whatever amount of time they are able to give.

Through their work with Calvary Community Church, the Gregsons have helped impact the communities of Camas and Washougal in a variety of ways — from helping out during Refuel Washougal’s weekly Friday meals to leading a program that provides backpacks and school supplies to local children in need. The Christmas dinner is an extension of those efforts.

“We have found that the need for food and shelter is mind-blowing in our small community,” Michele Gregson said. “This is Calvary’s way to partner with Refuel Washougal and feed those in need and also bless them with the true Christmas spirit — to love our neighbors.”

Refuel Washougal is a coalition of community leaders that works to help raise awareness and educate the public about the needs of citizens who are unable to provide adequate food for themselves and their families.

Originally called Refuel Fridays, the program started Jan. 2, 2015, as an effort to help feed low-income community members, families in need, the homeless, and needy seniors in the Camas-Washougal communities. Refuel Washougal offers a free meal every Friday, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the Washougal Community Center. The program serves an average of 60 to 70 people each week.