In keeping with the Christmas spirit, Jericho Services Inc. is collecting toys to be given to children at the Jericho Community Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Room.

Owner of Jericho Services Chris Keeton said the dinner has been a tradition in Woodward for more than 30 years. The dinner was originally started by Denny and Marion Hopkins and their family, but Jericho Services took over the dinner in 2007 when the couple retired from hosting the dinner.

Jericho stepped in to continue the Christmas tradition, Keeton said, because “it's something that needs to be done.”

The dinner provides those within the community who might not have anywhere else to go, a place to enjoy a traditional Christmas meal complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and smoked turkey.

“All of the food is very good,” Keeton said.

But it takes more than a couple of people to put on the dinner, he said, noting “we have company employees and (community) volunteers who help."

Those employees and community volunteers are the ones who help prepare all the food, he said.

Last year the Christmas dinner served 525 people at the Pioneer Room and additional 125 takeout orders, Keeton said.

However, he said they will not keep track of the number of people served this year.

“To God it doesn’t matter if there is one person or 500 people there as long as we are helping them,” Keeton said, noting “the numbers will be what they are no matter what and we will continue to serve the people.”

Beyond just providing a meal to anyone who comes to the event, organizers are also offering toys for all the children up to 15-years-old in attendance.

“At the Christmas dinner the children will be able to get the toys,” he said.

The leftover toys will go to the Western Plains Youth and Family Services and High Plains Outreach Center, he said.

Jericho will be collecting toys for the dinner through Dec. 24.

There are several drop-off locations for the toy drive in Woodward including the Woodward News, Southgate United Supermarket, Devine’s, Tumble Zone and the K101 Center, Keeton said.

Southgate United is even hosting Santa Claus today from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. as part of their efforts to support the toy drive.  In return for a chance to visit and get their picture taken with Santa, children are asked to bring one new toy to donate to the Jericho Community Christmas Dinner.

However, there are some guidelines for the toy donations, he said, noting the toys must be under $25 dollars and should be unwrapped.

According to Keeton, the toy drive and Christmas dinner is “very cool.”

“This (Christmas dinner) is the best Christmas for some of the people,” he said.

Some people don’t have families in this area so they are able to come enjoy a meal and the fellowship of other community members, Keeton said.

He added, seeing the children’s reactions is a good moment.

“You can see the sparkle in kids' eyes as they open the toys,” Keeton said.

People who are homebound and unable to attend the Christmas dinner may have their meal delivered to them by calling the Woodward Senior Center at (580) 254-8566. Orders must be placed by 5 p.m. Dec. 23, Keeton said.

Keeton said they are always looking for volunteers to help with the Christmas dinner. If you would to help out, simply come to the Pioneer Room between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Christmas Day.

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