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Wed., Oct. 7
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Amvets gears up for Christmas dinner


Forty turkeys, 100 pounds of potatoes, 35 pies and six gallons of cranberry sauce.

That’s what’s on tap for the Wallace E. Rock Amvets Post 19 annual Community Christmas dinner at the post, 215 Ford St.

Amvets members have been preparing for Wednesday’s meal since Sunday. On Monday, seven volunteers worked throughout the morning peeling potatoes.

“We’ve already cooked and cut about 28 turkeys,” Amvets Second Vice President and Head Cook Donald F. Ritchie said, pointing to members taking calls for turkey deliveries. “There are still turkeys coming in.”

The year’s biggest turkey — a 39-pounder — was donated midafternoon by Elmer Farmer, Lisbon.

“It’s a record-breaker,” Mr. Cooke said.

The Christmas dinner will feed close to 400 people, including 100 shut-ins. Trays of pies — apple, pumpkin and cherry — and bread fill the back room, ready to be placed in containers to be delivered by 30 volunteer drivers.

“We get more and more deliveries for shut-ins each year,” Mr. Cooke said. “They are usually average about four takeouts per family. Typically we deliver to people who are disabled veterans or elderly who can’t get out because the roads are too slippery and slick to drive.”

The organizers also volunteer to make deliveries to the Ogdensburg police and fire departments for emergency responders who are on call.

“It’s a service we try to have for the entire community,” Mr. Ritchie said. “We make sure everyone gets something. No one will go hungry.”

As for those who can get out, Mr. Cooke encourages them to come to the post to share the meal with good company.

“It’s about family here,” Commander Donald B. Cooke said. “It’s a place for people come and talk and have a meal together. Families come here and see friends and relatives they haven’t seen in years.”

“If you give us a call, we’ll pick you up,” volunteer and Sons of Amvets member Gary R. Cooke said.

The annual dinner is an Ogdensburg tradition that has lasted over two decades. The meal started out small, serving just the members, but grew over the years.

Mr. Ritchie said preparing to serve over 400 people is all about practice. The post regularly serves meals and hosts parties for community groups and organizations. On Monday, volunteers also prepared a spaghetti dinner for Julie’s Dance Studio to help the studio raise money for student scholarships.

“We work a lot of long hours and it’s all-volunteer,” Mr. Cooke said. “We’re here for the veterans and the community. It’s what we do. These men are a great team, and some of them are not very young. Most of them are older than 50. Our oldest volunteer, Joe Costentino, is 87, and it’s hard to keep up with him.”

Takeouts will be delivered starting at 11:30 a.m. for shut-ins within the city. Dinner will be served in the dining hall starting at noon.

To volunteer or make a reservation, call 393-6140.

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