“Columbia Christmas Ladies” serve holiday meal

COLUMBIA, Lancaster County, Pa. --- For roughly thirty years, a Christmas Day feast and Columbia have been synonymous.

The "Columbia Christmas Ladies" event, hosted at the fire hall, goes under the care of Helen Bechtold and Sis Luzader.

A total of 14 turkeys and ham go together with various sides to make a plate for more than 100 people on Tuesday.

Bechtold said 18 people volunteer their time to make it possible.

“These volunteers give out part of their Christmas Day to be with other people," said Bechtold.

The food for the meal, centered for seniors in central Pennsylvania (ages 55 and older), is donated.

Attendees also receive a gift to go, free of charge.

Some who comes for the day, such as resident Judy Embry, say they enjoy the sense of community the feast creates.

“Every year, I look forward to it…The people, and the friendship and the food," said Embry, with a smile.

One guest, going under the name "Kris Kringle," travels across Pennsylvania at the age of 84 in full garb.

It's a complete outfit he says took him three years to complete.

He said he's token the role as "Kris Kringle" for 45 years because of what he calls the "love of people."

“When the people smile, that’s my gift to get from them. Their smiles, their happiness, their joy. I make them forget some troubles for a little while," said "Kringle."

When the feast end, Bechtold said leftovers will go to those in need, the VA Hospital and other personal care homes.

Their goal is to help give someone a holiday to smile about.

“It brings out the Christmas spirit. It really does. It lifts up your spirits to see how happy people are. At least one day a year,” said Bechtold.

The "Columbia Christmas Ladies" event was one of several free meals offered around Lancaster County on Christmas Day.

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