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Temecula Community Christmas Dinner: Volunteers, Pies Needed

Held Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mary Phillips Senior Center, all are welcome to join in the holiday spirit.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

News release:

TEMECULA, CA - It is that time of year again, when Buck Kemmis and  a squadron of long-term Temecula volunteers ask the community for help in staging the 19th annual Community Christmas Dinner. 

Held Christmas Day, December 25th,  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mary Phillips Senior Center, 41845 6th St. in Temecula, all are welcome to join in the holiday spirit.

The Community Christmas Dinner, a completely free sit-down meal, is unusual in its purpose of sharing dinner and community spirit on the holiday with young, old, rich or poor, individuals alone for the holiday, and those who just want a dose of great community spirit. The event is sponsored annually by numerous anonymous donors and originated a subcommittee of the old Temecula Town Association.

Kemmis and his family started the event to bring the community together on Christmas Day. Children attending the event get to meet Santa Claus and, of course, Santa has a gift for them.

This is the first year for the event to be held at the Mary Phillips Senior Center as the Pujol Street Community Center is under reconstruction. Guests will be greeted to a festive holiday scene, with Christmas decorations, a jolly welcoming committee that guides guests to their seats as if all were family. 

Once seated the guests are asked what they would like to drink, coffee, water,  or punch and served a holiday feast of roasted turkey, dressing, potatoes and gravy, and vegetables. Dessert consists of a choice of pies. The pie committee works hard to get the necessary 150 pies which are donated to the dinner by members of the community. Pumpkin is always a favorite, but apple, blueberry, and cherry are usually on the menu.

"The city staff has worked hard with our committee to make our new location work smoothly," states Kemmis. "This is a nice facility with a larger prep kitchen than we are used. The main dining room is a little smaller but we have several other rooms to use in the facility which will be themed," he added.

Anyone who can't drive to the Mary Phillips Senior Center, can ask for a home delivery. Dozens of meals year are delivered to people who for health reasons can't leave their home.

"This is the biggest warm fuzzy of my holidays every year," stated Melody Brunsting who has volunteered for the event several years. "I remember one year we received 100 frozen turkeys about midnight Christmas Eve, all packed into my Suburban. Since all turkey is precooked for the meal we couldn't use them. But,  by 7 a.m. we had found homes and charities in need and distributed the turkeys to people who wouldn't have had a Christmas Dinner."

Most of the volunteers, including Kemmis and his family, have worked on the Community Christmas Dinner every year since its inception. They begin planning for it around Thanksgiving and within four weeks have all the food and supplies in place. A decorating party and deboning party before the event will be held at the Mary Phillips Senior Center. Toys are wrapped and set into large bins for girls and boys according to age so Santa doesn't have to make his elves work on Christmas Day.

Each  year the committee asks for cash donations of any kind, volunteers for various stages of the preparation, pies, and the specialized help of meat carvers or de-boning experts to help with prepping the turkeys. With the new location, more volunteers for serving are needed.  Sign up by calling 951-699-6603.

Last year the dinner committee served nearly 1,626 Christmas dinners and they anticipate at a minimum 10-percent increase this year. The Community Christmas Dinner is a 501 c-3 organization. Checks can be sent to Temecula Valley Community Christmas Dinner 2013 c/o MDMG Inc., 41635 Enterprise Circle North, Ste B, Temecula, CA 92590 or call 951-678-2471. Cash donations can also be made at the event on Christmas Day.

Anyone wishing to donate baked pies should call (951) 265-8557. For more information call (951) 678-2471 orwww.temeculacalifornia.com.

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