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Sarah Palin’s Hometown: A Christmas Dinner Request

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on November 15, 2009

By Tracey Porreca – Finding Myself in Alaska

I love living in Wasilla, Alaska. It reminds me of the small farming community where I grew up in Ohio. I recently was approached by Sarah Palin’s mother, Sally Heath, and her friend Carol Ryan, and asked to become involved with a group they have been involved with in recent years, the Christmas Friendship Dinner. Sarah Palin and her family have given their time in past years as volunteers and I know Sarah’s mom will be there with myself and many others on Christmas Day to provide a meal and fellowship to people of the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Valley who have nowhere else to go, or just want to be with others on Christmas Day. Last year because of her run for Vice President and Secret Service concerns, Sarah was not able to serve, but did come to show her support. Please check out this article from The Frontiersman, our local paper, and the 2007 Christmas Dinner after Sarah was elected Governor of Alaska for information about her serving:

By Greg Johnson
Published on Thursday, December 27, 2007 9:57 PM AKST

WASILLA – Gov. Sarah Palin really does serve the people, and has the apron and spoon to prove it.

The governor made a surprise visit at Tuesday’s annual Christmas Day Dinner at Wasilla High School, and it wasn’t long before she was behind the steam tables serving up helpings of mashed potatoes and dressing.

“Isn’t this cool?” the governor said about the community feed, which drew more than 1,000 people to WHS this year. “What’s neat about this is those folks who’ve been here doing this for 16 years.”

Daniel Brown, Palin’s serving buddy on the line, was nearly giddy over the unexpected gift he received from the governor.

“She said I was her new best friend,” Brown said.

Palin and Brown were part of the estimated 200 volunteers who helped make the 2007 Christmas Day Dinner another success, said Bob Bowers, who has been and organizer of the event since its inception. About 1,200 attended last year’s event and more than 1,000 were fed Tuesday. An actual count wasn’t immediately available.

For Bowers, the community gathering in a central location to eat, sing, visit Santa Claus and be neighborly embodies the spirit of the holiday.

“This is just fantastic, just like it is every year,” he said. “We’ve got doctors, lawyers, businessmen, community folk all together. Even Sarah [Palin] showed up this year. Wow.”

Enjoying the food and playing with other kids was Clarissa Coon, 7, who was excited to talk about her Christmas experience.

“We opened up our presents,” she said. “My daddy’s friend [came over] and I showed them what I got, and that I made a leaf thing for my daddy.”

Hannah Clark, 11, spent much of the time with her family and taking turns singing Christmas carols. She also complimented whoever donated the brownies on the dessert line.

“I love their brownies,” she said. “They are the best. I think this is all really, really great. I like to sing and they let kids sing.

“Santa Claus himself was one of those enjoying listening to Coon and others sharing the microphone singing holiday tunes. Fresh off making his around-the-world trip, Santa was still lively and spry, visiting with children, who each left with a free photograph with the Jolly Old Elf.

Many of the kids asked Santa if he were tired after being up all night delivering toys, he said.

“I love it,” said Santa, aka Leroy Hawn, about the Christmas Day Dinner. “I look forward to it every year.”

All the food, decorations and help is donated, Bowers said, adding that there was no reason for anyone to leave the feast hungry and many took home leftovers. Overall, volunteers donated and cooked up:

. 43 turkeys,

. 23 hams,

. 400 pounds of potatoes,

. 120 large cans of yams,

. 300 pounds of bread, which was.
dried and made into dressing,

. 140 large cans of cranberries,

. about 150 gallons of gravy,

. more than 1,000 rolls,

. and hundreds of donated pies and

The dinner has grown since its first year, when it drew 64 people to the Wasilla Senior Center, Bowers said. For several years, he also made all the rolls himself, but the dinner has grown so much he can’t make them all from scratch anymore.

In addition to the hundreds who file into the Wasilla High School gymnasium, volunteer drivers also take meals to the home bound, Bowers said.

Area seniors really appreciate having a place to go on Christmas or seeing a smiling face bringing dinner to them, said Jeanne Gardner, a resident at the Wasilla Senior Center.

“This is the first time I’ve been here and it was great,” she said. “I got to see people I haven’t seen in months. I see a lot of seniors out today, and it’s good for them.”

Roger Hughes said the food was “wonderful,” and enjoyed the social atmosphere.”

I see people I haven’t seen for years,” he said, adding the effort reflects positively on Wasilla and the Mat-Su Valley. “It says we’re together and this is a loving, caring, giving community. It’s uplifting.”

Contact Greg Johnson at or 352-2268

The story behind this dinner tradition is really touching. Some 18 years ago, a group of friends in a Wasilla Lions Club had received some donated turkeys and decided to put together a dinner for the community. Their modest start of serving about 25 people has developed into an annual event that is estimated to serve over 1800 this year, including delivery of meals to home bound folks over a broad area of the core of the Mat-Su Valley.

The meal is open to all regardless of age, beliefs or type of need (some people have physical or financial needs and other have spiritual or emotional needs) to gather in a welcoming atmosphere to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This is NOT a holiday dinner – it is a CHRISTmas dinner.

There is absolutely no charge for the dinner. We serve on Christmas Day from 11:00-3:00. In early years the event was held at the Wasilla Senior Center, and then at Wasilla High School. Because of the resounding success of the event, the 2009 dinner has been moved to the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center.

As you might imagine, staging an event of this magnitude takes a lot of people, and a lot of resources (or money). I write to you because we need your help. Everything has a cost associated with it from the building we are in, to the food, to the plates and cups, down to security and housekeeping services. Over the years many different people have helped in many different ways and we have been blessed to have had financial, time and/or in-kind contributions from individuals, corporations, governmental entities, churches, non-profits and small businesses. Currently we are working hard to meet the increased costs of this year’s dinner. The need is great, especially this year, and gifts of money for the purchase of food and other supplies is greatly appreciated. Donations can be sent to the following address:

Christmas Friendship Dinner
PO Box 870845
Wasilla, AK 99687

If you need a tax donation receipt, please contact me directly via my email at and I will give you instructions on how and where to send those donations. Only email me if you need a receipt. Otherwise, use the address above.

Any amount would be appreciated. We thank you so, so much and I will make sure to include a copy of any article that may be published again this year about the event. God Bless!

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