ENGLEWOOD — Englewood Methodists are readying themselves for their annual free Christmas dinner.

Roger Thomas dug into church’s archives and discovered Dwight Eakin with the Rev. Dave Wagner started what’s become a 28-year church tradition of offering anyone and everyone a free Christmas Day dinner. Eakin donated $1,000 for the first dinner.

Like the church has done for years, a traditional holiday dinner will be served from noon to 3 p.m. Christmas Day in the fellowship hall at Englewood United Methodist, 700 East Dearborn St. The dinner is free to everyone, but donations are accepted.

Those who are homebound or need a ride to the church can make reservations by calling 941-474-5588, ext. 253, no later than 11:15 a.m. on Christmas Day.

Grace Talada, who oversees the organization for the dinner, said they still follow its original goal that “no one needs to be alone at Christmas.”

Last year, volunteers served 1,472 meals in the fellowship hall, prepared 628 takeout dinners and delivered 187 dinners to 110 locations.

“We’re preparing to serve even more this year,” Talada said.

In preparation for this year, the church has ordered:

• 575 pounds of cooked and sliced turkey.

• 90 number 10 cans (which can hold as much as 109 ounces per can) of sweet potatoes for sweet potato casseroles.

• 84 number 10 cans of green beans.

• “Cases and cases” of mashed potatoes.

• 1,700 dinner rolls.

• 25 number 10 cans of cranberry sauce.

• More than 1,700 slices of pumpkin pie.

Actual preparation for the Christmas dinner begins 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve. More than 400 volunteers make the dinner possible. Talada hopes a few more people will be willing to volunteer.

“They need to be versatile,” she said. Anyone wishing to help out can call her at 941-474-2385.

For more information about the Christmas dinner, visit englewoodumc.net or call 941-474-5588.

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