Have a few hours to spare this Sunday? Share Christmas dinner with someone new at Gannon’s 34th Annual Christmas Dinner and Wellness Fair.
During the free event, open to the public, the college will serve full turkey dinners to those less fortunate, and have the opportunity to meet with local health and service representatives.
However, the Gannon Social Work Club hopes anybody interested in building community bridges will attend the event.
“The whole purpose of the dinner is to interact with someone you wouldn’t normally on a daily basis,” said Parris Baker, Assistant Professor and Director of the Social Work Club at Gannon.
Additionally on Saturday from 10-2, there will be a clothing distribution at St. John Lutheran Church, 2216 Peach Street, where people can pick up clothes, blankets, shoes, coats, and children’s toys.
Who goes? Baker estimates about 700 attend to benefit from the dinner. 40-50% are from Erie’s diverse refugee population, often spending their first Christmas in the United States.
“For students, the best thing that they can do is come and talk with someone who’s just come from Somalia (for example),” said Baker.
Additionally, about 500 volunteers from the Gannon and greater Erie community come to serve and share dinner with others. Many from Gannon’s sports teams come out to volunteer including the women’s volleyball and softball teams. The men’s baseball team will be volunteering their time both to aid the clothing distribution Saturday and the dinner Sunday.
“That contribution floors me, that’s 27 men and their coaches,” said Baker.
Wellness Fair: “It really helps to make the initial contact easier to initiate by our guests,” said Baker.
For kids? Gannon’s Education Department also offers the Children’s Care Room, where they offer fun educational activities. Santa will arrive around noon.
When? The dinner and fair start at 10 a.m.
Where? Come to the University’s Hammermill Center, 620 Peach Street.