That’s the spirit

MARSHALL – The Christmas spirit of giving was alive and well in Carlin Hall at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Marshall on Wednesday, as countless people volunteered to help serve about 500 full-course meals on Christmas Day.

The undertaking would not be possible if there weren’t so many people willing to lend a hand on the special day. While the volunteers varied in age, one could not help but be inspired by the generosity of young children like Matthew Ulmer and his cousin, Gabrielle Palicka, who shared of their time.

“We’re helping because Christmas is all about helping others,” Ulmer said. “It’s not just thinking of yourself.”

With smiles on their faces, Ulmer and Palicka delivered cartons of milk to everyone in attendance.

“It’s really fun,” Ulmer said.

Having willing volunteers makes everything run more smoothly, especially for Carol Henderson, who has organized the event for the past seven years.

“They’re all volunteers,” Henderson said. “We get a lot of families who come and help.”

The Mortier and Cool families are just two of the many who donate their time on Christmas Day.

“Jason Cool set it up again for his family of 19 to come and help, to volunteer,” Henderson said. “They’re from all over, but his mom and dad (Trixie and Bob Cool) are from Marshall.”

Henderson said she doesn’t mind doing her part because people appreciate having a traditional Christmas dinner.

“I enjoy all the people,” she said. “It’s because all these people come here for Christmas dinner, and if you didn’t have it, where would they be? It’s just a nice gathering.”

Henderson said she usually plans for 450 to 500 people every year. The dinner is privately-sponsored by donations from local businesses and individuals and is a non-denominational event.

“We usually get right in that range,” she said. “We have a lot of people who come every year. They come with their friends. A lot of them don’t have family home. Others bring their whole family and come. It’s very nice.”

A large number of homebound people were also able to enjoy a Christmas dinner, thanks to the many delivery volunteers. Henderson said she started receiving a lot of calls shortly after the snow began falling on Tuesday night. By 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, nearly 200 meals had been delivered.

“It’s really great,” Henderson said. “And the new kitchen is fantastic. This is the first year that we used the new kitchen and it’s all high-tech. It makes it a breeze. We do 36 turkeys that are donated by Turkey Valley. And anything left over, we donate to Esther’s Kitchen or to the food shelf.”

Due to renovations, Carlin Hall was not utilized the past two years. Volunteer Mary Mortier was one of many who were thankful to be back at the location.

“The Hall has been closed the past two years,” she said. “It’s nice to be back here and have this opportunity for people.”

Marshall resident Mary Ann Velde has enjoyed the Christmas dinner for the past 10 years.

“My husband usually comes with me, but he couldn’t come (Wednesday) so my neighbor lady (Marie Hovland) came with me,” Velde said. “The food is to die for.”

Along with the turkey, Christmas dinner also included mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, dressing, buns, cranberries, potato salad, lettuce salad, coleslaw, red velvet or white layered cake and ice cream.

“It’s great,” Velde said. “We’ve been coming for several years because we don’t have family here.”

Hovland said she enjoyed the food and the company.

“It’s very good,” she said. “It was great to come as Mary Ann’s guest.”

Michael Towne came with his family, to eat and then volunteer his time.

“I am with these wonderful people, my family,” he said. “And I’m going to help with dishes afterwards. I love this meal here. It’s very good.”