By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Red Andrews Dinner will once again take place in Oklahoma City on Christmas Day. It has been providing warm meals for those in need and 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 Friday, December 25 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The dinner will be held in the Event Hall on the southwest corner of the Cox Convention Center, at 1 Myriad Gardens.
“Last year we fed approximately 7,000 people and gave away thousands of toys,” said volunteer Mary Blankenship Pointer. “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.”
Everyone attending will receive a warm, turkey meal of turkey 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.
“Last year 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,” Goldman added. “Other organizations and individuals are also trying to secure coats. Please consider helping if you can.”
Andrew’s niece, Betty McCord, who has organized the dinners for over 35 years, is the board’s honorary chairperson.
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 are now being accepted at Jackie Cooper BMW, 14145 North Broadway in Edmond; the Goldman Law Firm, 222 Northwest 13th Street in Oklahoma City; and Republic Bank & Trust at 401 West Main in Norman.
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, 73070. One hundred percent of all donations go towards the dinner.
“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 7:30 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 Ms. Pointer at 405-253-8641 or visit www.redandrewsdinner.org.