Planning begins in July and donations pour in from a plethora of local businesses, from La Baguette bakery to Sooner Mall.
Though the dinner is intended for community members of all walks of life, the goal of meeting needs and reaching out has inspired the addition of a free toy and gift distribution to the traditional meal.
“We have gifts for guests of all ages. We had a wonderful candy donation this year, and the scarves in the gift bags for adults were hand-made by the children at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church,” said Gail Wilcox, toy and gift volunteer coordinator. “Sooner Mall’s donation of bags for the adult gift bags was a huge help this year.”
Wilcox also expressed great appreciation for the presence of Norman Police Department officers, saying they helped keep the entire event calm and gave her a sense of security.
“All guests are welcome to take two toys each, and some years we’ve been able to give specific aid to families who suffered major setbacks, like losing their home to fire,” Wilcox said.
The joint effort and networking doesn’t stop when the dinner is over. Any extra food and toys get redistributed to area charities.
“We started this 26 years ago because there was a need — no one was serving a free Christmas dinner in Norman, and we wanted to do something for the community. Our feeling is we’re doing God’s will,” Magarian said.
Those interested in contributing volunteer work or donations to next year’s community dinner may call Bob Magarian at 364-3273.