NORMAN — The weather forecast has Bob Magarian a bit worried. But wintry weather or not, the 26th annual Norman Christmas Day Community Dinner will go on.
The dinner will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Norman High School Commons Cafeteria, 911 W Main St.
Magarian, who founded the event in 1987, said the dinner has grown each year. Due to an ice storm, only about 20 people attended that first dinner. Last year, he and his army of volunteers served nearly 2,000.
“We're expecting about the same this year, if the weather cooperates,” Magarian said.
Magarian said he's already had a couple of calls from people who have been laid off from their jobs. Serving those people is what the community dinner is all about, he said.
“One man said he was counting on his Christmas bonus to provide a Christmas for his four kids. Since he was laid off and didn't get the bonus, this is the only Christmas they'll have,” Magarian said. “I think it's just terrible when people are laid off right before Christmas. I'm really hoping he and his family make it to the dinner.”
The purpose of the dinner is to give those without means a nice Christmas Day meal, but anyone in the community is welcome, Magarian said.
The meal will include turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and other holiday favorites.
While he assures pumpkin pie will be available for dessert, Magarian said businesses usually donate cakes, cupcakes and other sweets.
“Whatever people donate, our dessert people will put it out,” he said. “The donations have become a real treat for our guests.”
Magarian said donations from businesses and individuals are what make the event possible.
“This year Roland Lohmann of Lohmann's Good Things is providing all of the candy for Santa Claus, our home deliveries and the tables,” Magarian said.
Santa will hand out toys and gifts for those in attendance.
Items can be donated
Although he already has all the volunteers he needs, Magarian said donations of new toys are needed, as well as gloves, hats, scarves and personal care items for all ages, including adults.
Donations can be dropped off at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 1601 W Imhoff. Last-minute donations will be accepted from 9 a.m. to noon Monday at Norman High School.
“We will be there Christmas Eve morning working, so workers will be there if people have donations,” Magarian said. “They can just come through the front doors off Main Street.”
Magarian said volunteers will deliver the dinner to Meals on Wheels clients and to others in the community who aren't able to drive. Requests for meal deliveries will be taken until 5 p.m. Sunday at 364-3273.
Although he's been orchestrating the community dinner for more than two decades, Magarian said he has no plans to quit any time soon.
“I'll do it until I drop dead. My family is quite involved, and I have many volunteers who have been doing this for years. I'm confident that if anything ever happens, they'll be able to handle it,” he said.
“It's very rewarding,” he said. “I feel if you do good things for people, good will come to you.”