Generosity keeps Kiwanis Club dinner going for 29 years

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comDecember 6, 2012 

The Kiwanis Club of Los Banos has started planning its annual community Christmas dinner.

The free event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 24 at Fire Station No. 1, 333 Seventh St.

Kiwanian Jim Valentine said the group is expecting to feed about 900 people for the third year in a row.

"The last two years, we've had over 900 people. Last year we ran out of food," Valentine said. "I think it's because of the need. We used to see one or two people, lately we're seeing whole families."

When there are leftovers from the dinner, the food is donated to Manna Ministries, Valentine said.

He estimates the dinner costs about $3,500, a third of which Kiwanis has received in donations this year. Valentine said the rest of the money will come from funds set aside specifically for the dinner.

The meal will consist of chicken, pasta and salad.

The Christmas Eve dinner has existed in Los Banos for decades.

"This is the 29th year," Valentine said.

He said the community's assistance financially and through donated manpower has allowed the event to survive nearly 30 years.

"I define it strictly as a small town at heart. Some can't physically do it so they help financially," Valentine said.

The 17-member Kiwanis Club typically delivers 200 to 300 meals on Christmas Eve to homes of seniors who are unable to attend the dinner. The club then serves 400 to 600 people at the fire station, a venue the organization chose because it has adequate room to prepare and serve the food.

Kiwanis needs the community's help to put on the dinner. Valentine said there's about 40 volunteers who participate each year.

"There would be no way Kiwanis could do this without volunteers," he said.

For more information on the community Christmas dinner or to make a donation, call Jim Valentine at (209) 826-5181.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached by phone at 388-6563, or by e-mail at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached by phone at 388-6563, or by e-mail at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com

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