Westchester's Christmas Dinner Draws Crowd, Brings Smiles

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The Kingston family of Cross River serves dinner at the 20th annual Westchester Community Christmas Day Dinner Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Volunteers prepare dinner at the 20th annual Westchester Community Christmas Day Dinner at St. Mary's School in Katonah. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Toys and clothes of all shapes and sizes are provided to children who attend. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Elaine Tabakman mans the women's clothing room at the 20th annual Westchester Community Christmas Day Dinner Photo Credit: Sam Barron
More than 300 people attend the 20th annual Westchester Community Christmas Day Dinner Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Arcadio Cortes said he was looking forward to the 20th annual Westchester Community Christmas Day Dinner Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Stalinslad Lange was happy to have a place to go at the 20th annual Westchester Community Christmas Day Dinner Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Father Paul Waddell leads 300 people in singing "Silent Night" at the 20th annual Westchester Community Christmas Day Dinner Photo Credit: Sam Barron

KATONAH, N.Y. -- It was a regular Santa's village in Katonah on Christmas Day afternoon.

More than 300 people attended the 20th annual Westchester’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at St. Mary's School in Katonah.

The event provides a hot meal and warm clothing to people in need and will an additional goal that no one will be alone on Christmas. Elves go around to the attendees asking them what they want for Christmas with Santa Claus showing up to deliver presents.

Arcadio Cortes, a White Plains resident, was one of the attendees. He said it was nice to have somewhere to go on Christmas.

"This is a privilege," Cortes said. "I appreciate it. I am looking forward to the dinner. I love turkey."

Stanislad Lange's parents were out of town, and like Cortes, he also wanted a place to spend Christmas.

"I had nowhere to go," Lange, a White Plains resident, said. "I decided to come here and see how it is."

Lange said he was most looking forward to the mashed potatoes.

Katonah residents John Albert and his wife Ann helped prepare and serve the food this year. The Alberts were one of many who signed up to volunteer on Nov. 1 with slots filling up fast.

"It's very exciting to see the joy on people's faces," John Albert said. "This is a team effort from the community that gets everyone involved. It's fun and rewarding."

Elaine Tabakman, whose family lives in Bedford Hills, was manning the woman's clothing room. Clothes are provided free of charge to everyone.

"This is fantastic," Tabakman said. "So many beautiful things are given away. It's something marvelous."

Father Paul Waddell of St. Mary's Parish in Katonah led the crowd in a singing of Silent Night and said this event personifies the true meaning of Christmas.

"It's wonderful to see people sharing their love with each other," Waddell said. "I love meeting these wonderful people."

Ben Harvey, who organizes the event, said things ran smoothly.

"It's all about seeing the faces of the dinner guests," Harvey said. "There are a lot of smiles."

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gene.oates.1:

Wonderful, beautiful, event...Christmas Day is for the miracles of sharing, caring & loving that gift...