By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The annual Red Andrews Dinner will be held on Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25 from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in the Event Hall on the southwest corner of the Cox Convention Center, at 1 Myriad Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City. The event is free and open to the public.
Members of the Red Andrews family, local community leaders, and event volunteers are preparing to serve warm meals and provide toys for those in need – a holiday tradition that has continued since the 1940s.
“Last year we fed approximately 8,000 people and gave away thousands of toys. The Red Andrews’ Christmas Dinner is our gift to the community,” said Mary Blankenship Pointer, secretary/treasurer for the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner board. People from all walks of life attend. It is heart-warming to see the community work together to provide this wonderful event.”
Everyone attending will receive a warm, turkey meal with all of the trimmings. Children will have their photos taken with Santa and each will receive a toy.
“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.”
Organizers are also asking for donations of coats of all sizes. “Last year we gave away hundreds of much needed coats to children and adults,” Pointer said. “Many times the adults will sacrifice to get coats for their children.”
Goldman added, “Two years ago a donor gave us a one time donation of 1200 coats which we gave to our guests. We are trying to at least duplicate that amount. Other organizations and individuals are also trying to secure coats.”
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 said.
Jones then volunteered at the annual dinner for several years in the 1980’s. He plans to volunteer every year that he can.
“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 added. “The Red Andrews Dinner is something you really can’t put a value on for a little kid.
“I know there are hundreds of people in the city that have the same story I have,” he said. “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 and coats are now being accepted at Jackie Cooper BMW – 14145 North Broadway and the Goldman Law Firm – 222 Northwest 13th Street and all Republic Bank & Trust locations.
Monetary donations should be made payable to the Red Andrews’ Christmas Dinner Foundation, attention Mary Blankenship Pointer, Republic Bank & Trust, 11671 South Western, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73170.
“We will stay until the last person is fed,” Pointer added. “We need approximately 500 volunteers. The crucial hours are after 1 p.m. on Christmas Day.”
Volunteers are needed to help prepare on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. to noon, and to serve on Christmas Day from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Those wanting to help are asked to come to the southwest corner entrance of the Convention Center.
“The most important thing to know is that everyone is invited to eat,” Pointer said. “Many people are alone, do not have family, they may not be able to afford to go out – It does not matter your circumstance.”
For more information, contact Mary Pointer at 405-253-8641 or [email protected].