Franklin Countys First News

For the fifth year, volunteers prepare to serve the community a Christmas dinner

At a previous year's Family Style Christmas Dinner.

WILTON - Volunteers are once again gearing up for the annual Family Style Christmas Dinner at the Harnden Masonic Hall, years after a devastating fire provided the seed for the event.

It is the fifth year for the dinner, which is prepared and served by volunteers on Christmas Day. Besides cooks, servers, dishwashers and clean-up help, volunteers also drive to pick up diners without transportation so they can attend the event, which is provided at no cost. New this year will be the addition of a choir, building off last year's dinner which included two women singing Christmas carols. Santa Claus is also rumored to be planning an appearance.

The meal is organized by Arleen Masselli. In December 2011, a fire swept through an enormous barn at her Knowlton Corner Farm in Farmington. More than 70 firefighters from neighboring departments responded. Masselli, heartened by the community response, decided to organize an annual dinner.

"It is something that I will never forget," Masselli said.

Now in the fifth year, she said, people had stepped up to donate food and time to the event, which has become an annual draw. Amanda Beane, of Farmington, and Donna Dashnau, of New Sharon, have joined Masselli as the principal organizers of the dinner.

The event has been held in different places; this year it returns to Harnden Masonic Hall. Masselli said that the members of that organization provide their kitchen and dining room at no cost.

Dinner is noon to 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Day. The menu includes classics like baked ham, cherry sauce, squash, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls and lots of pies for dessert, as well as some new options: roast pork, coleslaw and popovers.

"We're just trying to spice it up a little and make things a little different," Masselli said.

Reservations are requested so the volunteers know how much food to prepare. Organizers request that reservations be submitted by Dec. 20.

Volunteers are also needed: table servers, dish washers and dryers, door greeters and clean-up help, in addition to choir members and drivers. Set-up for the dinner is the day before Christmas, from 10 to 2 p.m.

Anyone interested in contacting the organizers about either volunteer opportunities or reservations should call 778-6520.

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