25 Years of Serving Christmas Eve Lunches

By  | 

Tons and tons of food, thousands of hungry stomaches. For a quarter of a century, the Grand Island and Knights of Columbus councils have been feeding their neighbors on Christmas Eve.

"There is a lot of people that need a hot meal. You have three different centers in town that actually closed, so somebody has to do it. I started it out as a fun game and now it's a serious program," said George Lomasney.

Lomasney started the tradition in 1988, and through the years, he has gathered a loyal group of volunteers.

"Oh every year, we're know as the pie ladies," said volunteer Betty Rallens. "We've cut many, many pies over the years."

For Lomasney, the lunch has become more than just his pet project. It's become a community tradition.

"I also have a lot of people in town who like to donate and I think that's the best part of the whole program, the donations that come through the door, whether it's money or food, or pies," Lomasney said.

After 25 years, this holiday tradition of giving has also become an intergenerational event. Kids as young as four did what they could to help, whether that's clearing the dishes or cleaning the trays.

"Now I got school kids, high school kids, retired people, and they all come in to work for an hour, and that's part of the holiday, that's what it's all about," Lomasney said.

"The whole meaning of Christmas is to give so we wanted to give back so we decided to come to help and serve everyone who don't have as much," said 14-year-old Jonna Harris, who volunteered with her friends.

Some like Grand Island resident Helen Browning first came for the turkey lunch with all the trimmings, but returned each year for the fellowship.

"It was overwhelming. All the response and all the people working, even the children," Browning said.

This year volunteers served more than 800 people at St. Mary's Parish Hall and delivered about 200 meals to those who couldn't make it.