Residents invited to Banquet on Christmas

SALEM – Community members needing fellowship and food on Christmas can enjoy some turkey, ham and holiday tunes at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Salem Memorial Building.

Hosted by the Banquet in Salem and sponsored by Farmers National Bank, the meal will be prepared and served by Friends of the Banquet with one sitting in the gymnasium.

The menu will include turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, applesauce and ice cream sundaes for dessert.

Pastor Connie Sassanella of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, who serves as president of the Banquet in Salem board, said they’ve been hosting the Banquet on Christmas day for several years.

“We saw the real need,” she said.

Some people are lonely and have no family in town or no one to spend time with on Christmas so they open the doors to provide them a place to go. Sassanella and Patty Colian do a lot of the cooking and volunteers help out.

Butch Hallewell, who’s a Banquet staple, will provide some cheer with some Christmas music for the celebration.

The Banquet is in the midst of its 10th year of existence, with organizers planning various anniversary events leading up to the 10-year anniversary on Sept. 20, 2014. The first meal in 2004 served about 60 people, but the numbers now average 200 or more each

week. A meal is served every Monday, along with a meal on the fourth Thursday of the month.

No Banquet will be held this Monday or on Dec. 26 (the fourth Thursday of December) since they’ll be serving the meal on Christmas day.

The usual schedule will resume on Dec. 30.

The idea of the Banquet began with four ministers in Salem who had an interest in starting a feeding ministry. Sassanella was one of those ministers, along with Bill Wilkins, former pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran, who serves as board treasurer, the late Jack Austin of Salem First Christian Church and Rev. Tom Eisweirth, formerly of St. Paul Catholic Church.

The gift of fellowship and food has continued and grown over the years through the generosity of donors and volunteers. A dinner to honor the volunteers will be held next year.