Just hear those sleigh bells ringing and bill collectors calling, too. It's not such lovely weather to be broke and depressed, poor you. It can be pretty darn tough to feel like walking in a winter wonderland while pinching pennies and bargain shopping for holiday gifts this season. With unemployment rates climbing steadily up and increases in some utility rates looming on the horizon, free Christmas dinners are a crucial component for many North Bay families this winter. Thanks to the holiday spirit that thrives despite economic crises, free meals abound so that pennies are stretched further and no one has to spend Christmas alone or hungry.
The Sonoma Community Center (276 E. Napa St., Sonoma; 707.938.4626) serves up Christmas dinner from 3pm to 6pm on Friday, Dec. 25, with help from the Faith Presbyterian Church. According to event manager Toni Castrone, diners should plan to arrive at least half an hour early, as there is often a line to get into this annual free dinner, which is made possible by contributions from local businesses. Pies or other treats are graciously welcomed for the desert table, as are monetary donations that benefit the community center's arts and education programs.
Also in Sonoma County is the annual Christmas dinner in Guerneville at the Veterans Memorial Building (First and Church Streets, Guerneville; 707.565.2041). The meal, which is served from 1pm to 4pm, became an annual event after being established in 1982. With well over 500 bellies filled each year, volunteers are urged to call 707.869.0660 to lend a hand and help with festivities.
Over in the valley, the Table at First Presbyterian Church in Napa (1333 Third St., Room 23; 707.224.8693) will dish out platefuls to the hungry on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, from noon to 2pm.
And finally, Marin County does it up big once again at St. Vincent de Paul's dining room (820 B St., San Rafael; 415.454.3303). Following a visit from Santa and holiday carolers on Christmas Eve from 10:45am to 12:30pm, a Christmas feast will be served on Friday, Dec. 25, from 2:30pm until 5:30pm. The hot meal is accompanied by live music and provides buses to local church services at 5:30pm. Happy holidays to all!
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