Full stomachs, hearts at Sebastopol holiday feast

  • Mario Solano feeds his son, Mario Solano, Jr., during the Community Holiday Dinner, at the Community Church of Sebastopol, on Tuesday, December 25, 2012. The holiday event which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise, provides food, clothes and toys for the needy.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Sixty turkeys, 30 pies, heaps of mashed potatoes and hundreds of smiles filled tables Tuesday at the Community Church of Sebastopol.

As a steady rain soaked the earth and slickened roads, members of the Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise served about 500 free hot meals for their 9th annual Community Holiday Dinner, held at the church north of town on Gravenstein Highway.

People peeled off raincoats and closed umbrellas at the door. Some arrived to get out of the rain for a rare warm meal. Others helped their children choose a new toy from thousands heaped on tables.

Sebastopol Community Holiday Dinner


Many more arrived simply for the camaraderie evident at tables filled with family, strangers and friends.

"They share gifts and food and clothing, God bless them," said Dee Baldwin, 72, of Sebastopol, who tucked into a plate of food with a package of toy cars she chose for her great-grandson on her lap.

The annual event provides free meals for the homeless and anyone else who might not have a place to go or family nearby.

"Mr. Music," a performer also known as Jim Corbett of Sebastopol, led a chorus of Christmas carolers on his keyboard at the front of the room.

Behind them, people looked through racks of coats and sweaters. The group also gave away about 3,000 toys, most donated by the Graton Fire Protection District.

Volunteers in red-and-white Santa Claus hats bounced around the room clearing tables.

In the kitchen, Rotarian Michael McGlothlin, a Sebastopol resident retired from a travel agency, led a turkey carving assembly line with Underwood Bar and Bistro sous chef Sean Kelley, 32, and his friend and fellow cook Zack Ghidotti, 26, of Sebastopol.

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