By John L. Braese

The Enterprise

For those in need, those not wanting to cook, or those just a little lonely, volunteers are stepping up around the county to ensure stomachs are full on Christmas Day.

The Starlite Café in Vale will begin serving dinner at 12 p.m. with the last food going out at 2 p.m.

“It all started way back when the ministers association served meals on Christmas,” said Starlite owner Sharon Bannon. “When my husband and I bought the café, we decided to move the dinner to a neutral location. Everyone is invited.”

The Starlite is in its 21st year offering the meal. The menu this year: roast beef, turkey and ham along with side dishes.

“The side dishes are brought in by volunteers and they bring in their specialties,” Bannon said. “We also have volunteers, including our employees, as servers, cleanup, cooking and dishwashers.”

Last year, dinner was served 100 to 125 people, according to Bannon.

“We have all kinds of people coming in,” she said. “Couples that don’t want to fix a big dinner come in. We always have a lot of seniors that don’t have family in the area. We started this to make sure people would not be alone on the holiday and it is just one big family meal here on Christmas.”

For those in the Nyssa area, the free Christmas Day dinner will be served at the Nyssa Senior Citizen Center behind the public library starting at 12 p.m. and ending at 2:30 p.m.

“This is the 11th year for us doing this,” said organizer Mary Shelton. “It is a labor of love for me.”

Last year, 180 to 200 hungry patrons came through the doors hungry and left full.

“We do it for the seniors in our community, for those with no place to go and for those that just need a little company on Christmas Day,” Shelton said.

For those needing it, home delivery in the Nyssa area for those unable to attend is also available. Call 541-212-2987 to schedule the delivery.

The menu for this year includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, baked yams, green bean casserole, dinner rolls and pie.

All are invited to attend and volunteers are welcome to help at the dinner. Call Shelton for more information at 541-212-2987.

Ellie Moore, 5, of Vale, gets a hug from Santa at the recent Vale Christmas Market. (Enterprise/John Braese)