Christmas meal will be pick-up only


December 11, 2020

Jana Peterson

Santa's helpers will be behind the scenes this year as the annual free Christmas dinner will be curbside pickup only.

The 27th annual community Christmas Day Dinner is happening, thanks to a partnership between Zion Lutheran Church and the local Disabled American Veterans group.

The church will sponsor the meal, and the DAV and its auxiliary will provide the manpower to cook and package individual meals for pickup.

Due to the pandemic, there will not be a sit-down meal. Due to the short timeframe, delivery isn't an option either (except for local high-rise apartments).

"Once again, this is a weird year. There are people who are going to need some support," organizer Raffy Johnson said, explaining that the meal wasn't going to happen, but then the DAV cooks said they would do it. "It would have been nice to be able to deliver, but that's just not feasible this year."

The meals will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Christmas Day for curbside pickup at the church, located at 1000 Washington Avenue in Cloquet. Each meal will include ham, meatballs, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, a dinner roll and dessert.

Anyone who wants to pick up a meal (or meals) is asked to call the church at 218-879-4647 from now through Dec. 23 and let them know how many meals they want. The sooner the better, Johnson said. "It helps with planning."

Johnson has spearheaded the DAV's free community Thanksgiving meal for the past four years, so he knows how to make it happen. He also has lots of experience with the annual Christmas dinner, as his dad is Dave, who organized Zion's Christmas Day dinner for close to 25 years.

It's a family tradition, but now that family has expanded to include all of Raffy's fellow DAV members.

They are looking for a few volunteers to help deliver meals to larger apartment buildings, such as Aspen Arms and Larson Commons. Willing drivers can call Raffy Johnson directly at 218-590-4027 and leave a message.

"It took about five of us 20 minutes to deliver 75 meals to Larson Commons on Thanksgiving Day," he said. In total, volunteer drivers delivered more than 500 meals that day, and the DAV served 210 additional meals to people who picked up food.


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