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December 21-27, 2005

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News of the Food

Making Merry

By Patricia Lynn Henley

There are as many reasons for partaking of a community Christmas dinner as there are diners. The most obvious is need, from those who don't have enough groceries at home—or don't have a home—to folks who hanker after companionship and a bit of communal noshing on this festive day. There are a number of venues serving up a free feast on Sunday, Dec. 25.

One of the most established may be the Guerneville Community Dinner (Veterans Building, First and Beach streets, Guerneville, 707.869.0808; 1pm to 4pm), founded in 1982. Last year some 650 people were involved, according to volunteer Jill DeProto. "This is an event that is open to everybody, whether you're relocating or you want to volunteer. It's a pretty big event," DeProto says, of the event co-sponsored by the Guerneville Rotary club. Enjoy Christmas Day dinner with all the fixings, plus songs by the 18-member Metropolitan Church choir and the benevolent antics of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Main dishes will include ham, turkey and a vegetarian offering. "We want to make everybody happy," DeProto says. Santa and his helpers will hand out gifts to children, teens and seniors. Admission is free; donations are welcomed.

At the Sonoma Community Center's (276 E. Napa St., Sonoma, 707.938.9626, ext. 2; 3pm) annual free Christmas and Hanukkah dinner, the menu will include turkey, ham, salmon and more, with all the trimmings, says organizer Ken Brown. This annual communal dinner features candlelight, flowers, white linen tablecloths and other decorations. There will be a hosted bar and live music performed by the Earl Blue Quartet. Volunteers and donations are needed. Also in Sonoma, many hands are needed to create and serve the Vintage House (264 First St. E., Sonoma, 707.996.0311) holiday dinner for seniors. Call the above number to volunteer, reserve a spot at the table or arrange home delivery of a hot holiday meal.

In the Napa Valley, the all-volunteer program known as the Table (First Presbyterian Church, 1333 Third St., Napa, 707.224.8693; noon to 2pm) will offer a hot meal and a bit of holiday cheer to anyone in need on Christmas day. This free-meal program is run by more than 20 local community, faith and civic groups, and serves between 100 and 150 people every weekday. By the end of the year, the organization estimates that it will have dished up some 90,000 meals in 2005. A crew is already poised to serve the holiday dinner, but additional groups and individuals are needed to feed the hungry next year. For seniors, there's the Napa Senior Activity Center (1500 Jefferson St., Napa, 707.255.1800; 1pm) holiday potluck. The Senior Inc. board will provide the main course.

For the less fortunate in Marin, the St. Vincent de Paul Society (820 B St., San Rafael, 415.454.3303) offers a special Christmas Eve lunch with live music at 11am. From 6pm to 8pm, it will host a special service and meal with carolers and both Santa and Barbara Boxer in attendance. Santa returns on Christmas Day for an 11am hot meal, and Kurt Huget from Bread and Roses will perform.

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