Stillwater News Press

Local News

December 25, 2013

Annual Christmas dinner spreads holiday spirit

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater firefighters serve the community daily throughout the year. Christmas Day was a little bit different for nine firefighters from Station No. 1.

They served and delivered holiday meals at the 30th annual Friends of Stillwater Community Christmas Dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Stillwater Community Center.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Stillwater Fire Department Capt. Mike Eytcheson said. “I was working today, and I asked the guys if they wanted to come down and help. We all came down here to do whatever we could do.”

Some firefighters became part of the meal-delivery crew, while others worked in the dining room serving meals and clearing tables.

“We’ve got a bunch of good guys,” Eytcheson said. “It was great to see everyone enjoying themselves.”

It takes a lot of volunteers to prepare enough food for 700 or more meals. Former U.S. Congressman Wes Watkins delivered meals and his wife, Lou, helped prepare iced tea and Kool-Aid.

Susan Kenslow of Stillwater and her daughter, Katy, of Houston worked in the dining room. The mother-daughter team performed similar duties on Thanksgiving Day at the community Thanksgiving dinner at First Presbyterian Church.

Justin Hazzard, his wife, Megan, and two children, Avyn, 7, and Dawson, 5, were first-time volunteers. Hazzard is interim manager for Oklahoma State University’s Small Business Development Center International Trade Center at the Wes Watkins Center.

The Hazzards have been in Stillwater for two years. They moved here from France.

“We had our Christmas this morning and came down to help,” Justin Hazzard said. “The kids are asking people if they need drink refills and are helping deliver desserts. I’m just plugging in wherever I’m needed.”

The Hazzards helped because they enjoy being part of the community, he said.

“We’ve seen a lot of familiar faces — serving and eating,” he said.

Helena Pililaau cleaned tables after they had been cleared. Pililaau’s father, brother and sister also were volunteers.

Pililaau said volunteering was her father’s idea. So, the family had breakfast, opened presents and arrived at the Community Center shortly after the doors opened at 11 a.m.

“It’s really nice to see all the people eating and having a good time on Christmas,” she said.

Friends of Stillwater Community Christmas Dinner organizer Charles Kaupke said he didn’t have any figures on the number of dinners served.

“It’s been really good,” Kaupke said. “We’ve had a lot come out and dine and made a lot of deliveries.”

Kaupke, who has been involved with the community Christmas dinner since its inception in 1984, called the number of diners and volunteers “strong.”

“The community response has been better than ever,” Kaupke said.

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