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Christmas lunch at Our Savior Lutheran Church.

The tables were filled with food for Christmas lunch.

About 60 meals were served or delivered on Christmas Day thanks to the efforts of Ken Toney, who for almost 20 years has been the head chef for a Community Christmas dinner at Our Savior Lutheran Church.

Toney said he arrived at the church at about 7:30 a.m. to begin preparations of the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes for the free lunch that was available to anyone in the area who wanted to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner.

Many of the residents who attended celebrated with family on alternate dates or were single and didn’t have anyone locally with whom to celebrate.

What wasn’t eaten or taken home by the guests in take-out containers would be driven to St. Louis Center, Toney said.

He said that before the guests arrived, seven meals had already been delivered to shut-ins and to people who were working on Christmas Day.

Toney said that people from Dexter churches and community volunteers arrived and jumped in to help anywhere they could lend a hand.

They included Ron Klumpp, who was volunteering for the fifth year and Mark Olexa, who has helped cook for the last four years, both from Dexter.

“I’m single and it gives me an outlet,” Klumpp said. “It’s a place to go and I get some gratification from this, too.”

Olexa agreed. “This has been on my Bucket List, Olexia said. “I orchestrated my (Christmas) day around it.”

But all the volunteers agreed that none of it would take place without the efforts of Toney.

“This guy has a halo over his head,” one volunteer said of Toney. “He organizes the whole thing.”

And by 3 or 4 p.m., he’d have the church kitchen cleaned up and the extra food packed and ready to go. “Maybe by then I’ll be done,” he said.

Toney wanted to make sure he thanked all the volunteers who spent their Christmas Day helping.

“I couldn’t do this without them,” he said.

And isn’t this what the Christmas spirit is all about?

Message on a board inside the church.
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