FAIRMONT - It's a way to reach out; it's a way to serve; it's a way to get involved.
This year will be the third annual Christmas dinner put on by the Christian Church of Fairmont, a free traditional meal open to all.
"We try to do what the Salvation Army doesn't do; we always check with them first," said Glen Davis of the Christian Church of Fairmont. "So we serve dinners at Christmas and at Easter."
In past years, the church has tried to put on programs during the dinner, but learned that keeping it simple works best.
"We might have some music playing while serving, but mainly it's about them coming in and giving them a meal," Davis said.
Another change made since the tradition was implemented is the serving style. Davis said they go with a buffet-style setup now.
"We wanted it to be special and wait on people, but it got confusing," he said.
The number of people who turn out for the meal varies, but Davis said they hope to see 150-200 people.
"Last year was the bad snowstorm, and we only had about a hundred people, including staff," Davis said. "But we had some people in town who were stuck and there was nothing else open and they were tickled pink to have this."
The entire operation is run by volunteers, and more volunteers are always accepted.
"Because it is Christmas Day, that means someone is giving up their Christmas," Davis said. "And there's always something to do, so if someone shows up and says they want to help, we let them."
When the church began holding the holiday dinners, the economy was crashing and church leaders saw a need. It was also a golden opportunity to reach out to the community and practice faith in action.
"We do want to reach outside our own," Davis said. "It starts by members of the church bringing things, then another person says, 'Hey, can I bring something?' What we like is just having people come together. ... It's about the incarnation, the spirit of Christmas, the celebration of when God became flesh, and sharing that spirit with people who believe."
The meal begins at 12:30 p.m. Christmas Day at the Christian Church of Fairmont on Johnson Street.