By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Once again it is time for Oklahoma City’s annual Red Andrews Dinner. The holiday event has provided warm meals for those in need plus toys for children since the 1940s.
Members of the Red Andrews family, local community members and event volunteers are preparing to serve needy Oklahomans on Christmas day, Thursday, December 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cox Convention Center.
The dinner is open to the public and anyone that needs s place to go is welcome.
Last year over 1,000 volunteers fed more than 8,000 guests and gave away thousands of toys.
“It has been incredible to witness Oklahomans working together in the spirit of serving our neighbors,” said Board Chair Robert Goldman. “We are all united in that we recognize what a highly-valued and impactful event this has been on the community for many decades.”
Betty McCord, Andrews’ niece who has organized the dinners for 35 years, is the board’s honorary chairperson.
“The Red Andrews’ Christmas Dinner is our gift to the community. It is free and open to the public. People from all walks of life attend.” said Mary Blankenship Pointer, Senior Vice President at Republic Bank and Trust. “It is heart-warming to see the community work together to provide this wonderful event.”
Everyone attending will receive a warm meal of turkey and all of the trimmings.
Children that attend will each get to visit with Santa, have their photo taken and receive a toy.
“We will stay until the last person is fed,” Pointer added. “We need at least approximately 500 volunteers, the crucial hours are after 1 p.m.”
In 1958 Oklahoma City resident Jim Jones had his first Red Andrews Dinner experience.
“I thought that we were really lucky to be at a dinner like this and to get free presents,” Jones said. “It was a neat memory for me. My mom took my brother Dan and I to it every year for several years.”
“Of course at the time I didn’t know how poor we were and that we didn’t have two nickels to rub together.”
Jones volunteered at the annual event several years in the 80’s. Last year he was concerned when he heard that the dinner might not be continued. “When I found out it would still take place I wanted to be a part of it again.”
Jones, 64, says he plans to volunteer every year.
“Now I like to volunteer for the dinner because it brings back really good memories. I look at these kids that come today and I hope they feel as special as I felt.” Jones said.
“The Red Andrews Dinner is something you really can’t put a value on to a little kid,” Jones said.
“I know there are hundreds of people in the city that have the same story I have,” he added. “It’s a wonderful way to give back and it’s a great way for people without financial resources to treat their kids to a really special day.”
Donations of new, unwrapped toys are now being accepted at Jackie Cooper BMW, 14145 North Broadway, in Edmond, and the Goldman Law Firm, 222 Northwest 13th Street, in Oklahoma City.
“Last year I had a wonderful time greeting the kids as they entered the toy area,” said Piedmont resident Leslie Gilmore. “What a wonderful way to spend Christmas Day. I will definitely be back this year.”
Monetary donations should be made payable to the Red Andrews’ Christmas Dinner Foundation, attention Mary Blankenship Pointer, Republic Bank & Trust, P O Box 5369, Norman, Ok. One hundred percent of all donations go towards the dinner.
Volunteers are needed to help prepare on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. to noon, and to serve on Christmas Day beginning at 7 a.m. Those wanting to help are asked to come to the southwest corner entrance of the Cox Convention Center.
For more information, contact Mary Blankenship Pointer at 405-253-8641 or [email protected].