By Rhea Riley
The Milwaukee Christmas family feast is the largest of any Salvation Army dinner’s on Christmas day in the United States. This year, the free event is expected to receive at least 8,000 to guests. However, that is not discouraging since the Salvation Army has been preparing for the massive event for six months. It will take 1,400 volunteers to accomplish their event and their work began when donated food began to pour in this Wednesday.
“We do prepare to feed as many people as we possibly can as a result of Christmas Family Feast,” said host Faithe Colas, Assistant Divisional Director of Development of the Salvation Army.
The feast will also be offering guests the option of take-out meals to feed those who are unable to attend the event. There will also be ride services provided by MCTS to those who need a way home from the event. At the feast, guests will receive a full meal comprised of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, dessert and non-alcoholic beverages.
The Salvation has had a lot of local help putting on this event with more than 20 different donations and sponsors consisting of Forrest County Potawatomi Foundation, Brewers Community Foundation, Pitts Funeral Home, The Wisconsin Center District, Pick ‘N Save, Landmark Credit Union, Sir Wayne Knights of Dragons and many more.
The Hunger Task Force has donated 126 turkeys for the event along with Feeding America who is also supplying other foods like the ham and dry goods.
“I come back every year because I can’t think of nothing more rewarding to do at Christmas time than what I’ve done for 29 years,” said Retired General Manager of the former 1290 WMCS Don Rosette. “I thank my family for letting me do this, it’s always a good time to come back to Milwaukee and see all of my friends especially at the Christmas family feast where fellowshipping is the best.”
As a former Milwaukeean, Rosette was a part of the very first Christmas family feast back in 1990. Rosette now travels back each year to help assist in putting on the major event. The holiday event is a place for giving and also reunion, Rosette even recalls several heartfelt moments such as a couple reuniting after not seeing each other for 18 years and a group of delayed flyers decided to spend their time volunteering.
“So many characterize this is something for the needy, this is not for the needy, this is for everyone. This is for everybody to come and celebrate the birth of Christ and eat a traditional meal and give toys and give gifts to our kids. Santa Claus is there [and] we have choir’s caroling. It’s just a beautiful beautiful setting.”
In addition to giving out meals, the event does much more like giving out toys to children in need while entertaining guests. WNOV’s Homer Blow will be the MC at the event and will be accompanied by a 100-person volunteer choir, but they are still looking for additional talent.
If you cannot attend the Christmas family feast but still wish to help, you can participate in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. Beginning on Nov. 9th, nation-wide the Salvation Army has been working to reach their goal of 3.8 million dollars by the new year. These donations go towards many of their community and charity programs throughout the year.
The 29th Annual Christmas Family Feast will be held on Christmas day at the Wisconsin Center District at 400 W. Wisconsin Ave. from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
To learn more about the Christmas Family Feast and how to donate, or volunteer you can contact the Salvation Army at http://samilwaukee.org