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About Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 2, 2019)
A11 • HERMISTONHERALD.COM
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 2, 2019
Friendship and food
Dallin Smith, 10, and his older brother bring leftovers to
diners at the Community Fellowship Dinner on Christmas Day
at Hermiston High School. A group of friends started oﬀ ering
the free holiday meal in the 1980s.
Staﬀ photo by Kathy Aney
Staﬀ photo by Kathy Aney
Hundreds ﬂ ocked to the Community Fellowship Dinner on Christmas Day at Hermiston High School. A group of friends started
oﬀ ering the free holiday meal in the 1980s.
By JADE MCDOWELL
he coffee and conversation were
ﬂ owing freely at Hermiston’s Com-
munity Fellowship Dinner on
The holiday meal, which has been an
annual tradition since the 1980s, is free and
open to anyone, for any reason. The wide-
spread invitation draws an eclectic crowd,
from those who don’t want to spend Christ-
mas alone to extended families enjoying the
chance to skip doing dishes and cooking.
Frances Howard said she came by herself
to the dinner in the Hermiston High School
commons, but was able to meet “a lot” of
“I’m living in a camper trailer and there’s
no oven, so there’s no way for me to cook a
turkey dinner,” she said.
Caleb Jacobs and his mother Cindy Clark,
both of Hermiston, met up on Tuesday after-
noon to enjoy their choice of ham or turkey
dinner. Jacobs, who has been to the dinner the
last six years, said he’s a movie buff and likes
to entertain the servers and people sitting near
him with movie trivia. Clark said sometimes
she and her son get treated like “outcasts,”
but not at the Community Fellowship Dinner.
“The people are friendly here,” she said.
Joetta Wallace, her mother Bonnie Phillips
and her aunt Gloria Lampkin were all seated
together as they laughed and talked over din-
ner. Wallace and Phillips were in town vis-
iting Lampkin, who lives in Echo, and the
three decided the community meal would be
better than cooking.
“Any time someone else cooks it, it’s deli-
cious,” Phillips said.
Wallace said she appreciated how hard the
volunteers, who put the dinner together, must
have worked behind the scenes.
Some of the people sitting at the tables
Waiter Noah Espinoza, 8, hands a loaded plate to a diner at the
Community Fellowship Dinner on Christmas Day at Hermiston
were also volunteers who were enjoying the
fruits of their labor after working a shift in the
kitchen or out with the guests.
David Lawson had volunteered for the
Thanksgiving meal for the ﬁ rst time in
November, and liked it so much he came
back and washed dishes at the Christmas
meal. While he was grabbing a bite to eat
with a friend sitting at one of the tables, he
said he is retired and his grandchildren were
at his ex-wife’s house this Christmas, so he
liked being able to come and help out with
“It gives me something to do,” he said.
Rachael Higgins was also enjoying a meal
after volunteering. She said she used to attend
the meal when she was a child, and came this
year with her sister and her mother to help
serve up food.
“I like that you get to talk to a lot of people
while serving,” she said.
Some people at the high school on Tues-
SUPER CROSSWORD: THIS IS REALLY BIG
day were ﬁ rst-timers. Sharon McKim came
with her father and her husband — who
would usually cook Christmas dinner — to
try out something new for the holiday this
year. She said they heard about the din-
ner through a banner on Highway 395 and
thought they would come and check it out
instead of eating at home.
They said they approved of the atmo-
sphere, the dinner choices and the service.
“It’s good food,” McKim said.
The Christmas dinner usually feeds 700-
900 people, and on Tuesday afternoon the
tables at the commons area remained mostly
full as people were coming and going. Trans-
portation or meal delivery was also available
to those who needed it. The free community
event was made possible by a long list of
volunteers, donations and sponsorships, and
after it was over, a clean-up party for deco-
rations and chairs and tables was planned for
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