Home cooking for the holiday

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Annual dinner ensures no one has to be alone on Christmas

Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess, left, and Mike Kelly, chairman of the Christmas Day Dinner Committee, load turkeys into Hess’ car Saturday at Stop & Shop in Naugatuck. The turkeys are for the annual Christmas Day Dinner, which is organized by volunteers and held at St. Michael’s Church in Naugatuck. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — About two dozen turkeys, 200 pounds of potatoes, 200 pounds of turnips, 100 pounds of fresh carrots, and plenty of dessert would make a feast fit for a king. On Christmas day in Naugatuck, those ingredients, and more, will make a meal fit for a kingdom.

The parish hall at St. Michael’s Church, 210 Church St., will again host the annual Christmas Day Dinner from 12 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Christmas. The free dinner is open to anyone and everyone who wants to come together and share a holiday meal.

“This way they can come down — there’s a lot of nice people there — sit and eat together,” said Mike Kelly, chairman of the Christmas Day Dinner committee.

The dinner started about 30 years or so ago when John and Maureen Ford wanted to show their children the true meaning of Christmas and provide a place for people to enjoy a meal and socialize on the holiday. About 20 years ago, the Fords passed the torch to Kelly and his family to oversee the dinner.

“We enjoy doing it, and we appreciate all the help we get from the volunteers. … That’s why it works because of the volunteers and all the generous donations of the people in town,” Kelly said.

The dinner will feature a visit from Santa Claus at 1 p.m., and small gifts for children, Kelly said.

“We want to encourage families to come,” he said.

Those who can’t make it to the church for dinner on Christmas can have a meal delivered to their home. Volunteers will deliver meals to residents in Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Middlebury and Prospect, Kelly said. People can schedule a delivery by calling Kelly at 203-723-1640 before Christmas and leaving a message with their name, address, phone number and number of meals.

About 400 meals were served at last year’s dinner, including about 200 that were delivered, Kelly said. He expects those numbers to hold steady this year.

The dinner is put on completely by volunteers, and volunteers are always welcome to help out.

Volunteers are needed on Christmas Eve, Saturday, to help prep the food and set up the hall. Anyone who wants to help can come to the parish hall from 9 to 12 p.m. on Saturday. Volunteers are also needed on Christmas to help serve and set up. Those who want to help out on Christmas can come to the parish hall between 10 and 11 a.m., Kelly said.

The committee is also seeking donations of baked goods for dessert. No cream-based desserts can be accepted, because there isn’t space to refrigerate them. Desserts can be dropped off at the church hall on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The dinner is completely free, but donations are accepted. Anyone who wants to donate can make a check out to Christmas Day Dinner and mail it to 561 North Church St., Naugatuck, CT 06770.

For more information, call Kelly at 203-723-1640.