Folks organizing Westchester's Christmas Dinner, which is in its 19th year, are in the final stretch when it comes to collecting clothing and toys, and recruiting volunteers.
The planning for the massive Dec. 25 event—slated to accommodate 300 of Westchester County's neediest residents for three hours of eating and socializing, in addition to receiving gifts, at Saint Mary's on Valley Road in Katonah—begins in July each year.
"We have families who have actually been working this dinner for 19 years, so people who sign up never really leave, and they work a shift and they incorporate this into their own Christmas plans," Licia Sandberg, one of the co-coordinators, said.
Those looking to help are encouraged to visit WestchesterChristmas.org for details on wanted items, drop-off locations and volunteer opportunities. That's where folks will find information on attending too, as the event is invitation only because of seating restrictions.
Ben Harvey, the other co-coordinator, said the dinner is "everything Christmas ought to be."
"It's more than just the meal," he said. "...We want to give people a Christmas Day experience that they wouldn't ordinarily have. We're well aware that Christmas is a happy holiday for many people, but it could also be a sad one if you're alone in a shelter, or if your family is in a shelter, Christmas can be extraordinarily painful. So we want to flip that around to give them the best possible Christmas we can, and that's why its so rewarding for our volunteers."
The event is slated to run from noon to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day.
Take a look at the videos at right for more information on the food, the volunteer experience and more.