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NOEL Community presents 17th Christmas Day dinner

(Dec. 19, 2014) The NOEL Community will host its annual Christmas Day dinner at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, located on Baltimore Avenue and Third Street, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 25 for those homeless, unemployed, underemployed, shut-in, and who are alone.

“We are serving breakfast meals in the morning,” said Katie Coffman, chairwoman of the NOEL planning committee.

There will be breakfast sandwiches, donuts and coffee available in the parish hall. The dinner will come pre-cooked in a bag. Dinner includes ham, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, vegetables and rolls. Tables will be set up in the parish hall for visitors to enjoy their meals, where there will also be music, decorations and Santa Claus. All are welcome to join the NOEL Community for this holiday celebration.

In 2013, the group held its 16th annual NOEL Community Dinner in memory of Father David Dingwall. The organization came together to provide food and companionship on Christmas Day despite the tragic fire on Nov. 26 at Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea and the Shepherd’s Crook Food Pantry that took the life of Dingwall.

With the community’s generous donations and efforts, NOEL distributed 400 cloth shopping bags each packed with pre-cooked items for three meals, 100 cloth shopping bags with sandwiches for two meals, 200 breakfast sandwiches, 200 donuts, and 65 meals for the public service workers. More than 1,600 meals/sandwiches were distributed from City Hall on Third Street, located across the street from the church, to those in need of food on Christmas.

NOEL stands for Nothing Other than Eating and Loving.  The organization provides services to the community including preparing and serving meals, working with local pantries and collecting food donations.

“We had leftover food one year to do a lunch in January and years later we had enough food…to do a few lunches in January,” Coffman said.

Now, the NOEL community provides lunch every Saturday and several weekdays during the year. Volunteers actively work with the local food pantries, shelters and social service groups to identify what is most needed by the individuals and families.

The Noel Community prepared lunches with leftover food and funds from Christmas last year. These meals were served at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea or distributed as carry-outs from Shepherd’s Crook. The group of volunteers prepared breakfast and/or lunch on 63 days providing more than 6,600 meals in 2013.

The Noel Community also served 90 meals/carry-outs at The Atlantic Club in West Ocean City in March and prepared 100 sandwiches for the Surfer’s Healing event in Ocean City in August. The Noel Community provided 100 bags of food for the Homeless Census in January, packed 120 toiletry kits for a food pantry in Berlin in July, prepared 120 baskets for a food pantry in Snow Hill at Thanksgiving, and assembled 50 toiletry kits for the Community Resource Day in Worcester County in December.

The NOEL Community is asking for monetary and food donations. Checks can be mailed to: 302 North Baltimore Avenue, Ocean City, Md., 21842. Donations of non-perishable food and toiletries from individuals and organizations will be accepted on Wednesday, Dec. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea.

NOEL organizes events throughout the year. One is the gLOVEs drive in February. The gLOVEs drive is Valentine’s Day themed, and NOEL asks the public to open their hearts and share the gifts of warmth and love by donating new gloves, hats, socks and blankets to those in need. For more information about the NOEL Community or the Christmas dinner, contact the parish at 410-289-3453.

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