During a time when many gather around large tables filled with family and rich foods there are also many who don't have family nearby and for those who fall into the latter category, two local organizations are planning free Christmas meals.
Marcella's Kitchen, located at 868 Guy Mathis Drive in Benton, will host its annual Christmas meal on Dec. 20 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Marcella Perkins, founder of the community kitchen, said they'll serve the traditional ham and turkey with all the trimmings. Also in line with tradition, dessert will be a birthday cake for Jesus and patrons will sing Him the happy birthday song.
"We don't want to forget what it's all about," she said.
Perkins said the organization will also, as is custom, give out gifts and grocery bags that include fresh fruit to the patrons who come to enjoy lunch that day. She noted small children will receive a special gift in a Christmas stocking.
It's the first Christmas celebration in the new building, which Perkins said is very exciting.
Following the Christmas meal, the kitchen will be closed until Jan. 2. Perkins said her volunteers work hard all year long to provide meals five days a week and they deserve a short break for time with their families during the holidays.
When they return on Jan. 2, Perkins said her patrons will enjoy a traditional New Year's lunch with cabbage, black-eyed peas and hog jaw. And following the holiday break, the kitchen will return to its typical hours, serving meals Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
On Christmas Day, Dec. 25, the First Baptist Church of Benton is hosting its 12th annual free Christmas dinner from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in the activities building, which is next to the church at 10th and Main Streets in Benton.
Karen Postma, organizer of the event, said the church hosts the event each year in an effort to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy celebrating the birth of Jesus with a delicious meal and fun fellowship.
The menu offerings include turkey, ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, dressing and homemade desserts.
Postma said there is no charge for the meal and no reservations are required. For those who are homebound and live within a five-mile radius of the church, deliveries are available but must be arranged by calling 270-527-7575 before close of business on Dec. 19.