By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The 72nd annual Red Andrews Christmas Dinner will be held on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Event Hall of the Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens, in downtown Oklahoma City.
Each year, members of the Red Andrews family, local community leaders, and event volunteers serve warm meals and provide toys for those in need – a holiday tradition that has continued since the 1940s. The event is free and open to the public.
“Last year we fed approximately 7,000 people and gave away thousands of toys. The Red Andrews’ Christmas Dinner is our gift to the community,” said Mary Blankenship Pointer, board secretary/treasurer. “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 presidents 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.”
Beginning Dec.1, donations of new, unwrapped toys and coats will be accepted at the following locations: Jackie Cooper BMW – 14145 N Broadway, the Goldman Law Firm – 222 NW 13th St., Cort Furniture – 4300 NW 39th St., 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 S Western, Oklahoma City, OK 73170.
“Serving at the Red Andrews’ Christmas Dinner has changed my life forever, Pointer added. “A young boy with tears in his eyes said that he had been good all year. Unfortunately, when he got up Christmas morning Santa did not leave a gift under the tree for him. Later, he was thrilled to see Santa and receive a toy at the Red Andrews’ Dinner.”
Volunteers are needed to help prepare on Christmas Eve and to serve on Christmas Day. Those wanting to help are asked to come to the southwest corner entrance of the Convention Center.
“We need approximately 500 volunteers,” said Pointer. “The crucial hours are after 1 p.m. on Christmas Day.
“Many people are alone, do not have family, they may not be able to afford to go out – It does not matter your circumstance,” she said. “The most important thing to know is that everyone is invited to eat.”