PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Almost everyone enjoys Christmas dinner, but not everyone takes a limousine to the dining destination.
For seven years, the Presque Isle Elks Club has put on a free community family dinner on Christmas Day, arranging for those without transportation to be driven to the lodge by limousine. For those unable to attend, the limo delivers meals.
It is a big undertaking that takes close to four months to organize, Ernie Lovely, the club’s exalted ruler, said Thursday, but the club wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It is just a great way for us to give back,” he said. “The motto of the Elks Club is ‘Elks Care, Elks Share,’ so we help out the community as best we can.”
Senior citizens and anyone who otherwise would be alone on Christmas are encouraged to join the Elks and their friends at the celebration, Lovely said.
The Elks will serve a traditional sit-down Christmas dinner with roast turkey, country-cooked ham, dinner rolls, salad, vegetables and more. Appetizers and dessert also will be provided.
The majority of food has been donated to the club by local businesses, organizations and individuals, according to Lovely. Volunteers already have begun prepping for the meal, and they will arrive early Christmas morning to begin cooking.
As in past years, free limousine service will be provided to assist those unable to travel to the lodge on their own. For people who use wheelchairs, special equipment is available for transportation to the lodge.
Numerous volunteers also will deliver meals to shut-ins.
“We have about 40 volunteers who are helping us make this happen,” said Lovely. “This isn’t a cafeteria-style meal. The people come in and they sit down and we usually have them served within five minutes or so. We’ll have people on hand singing and playing music. It really is a great community event.”
Lovely said the club usually serves between 150 and 200 people, and an estimated 100 dinners are delivered to those who can’t make it to the 508 Main St. facility. The club sees many of the same people year after year, including parents, children and grandchildren.
This year, Lovely will drive one of the limos. He said Thursday that the club is going to try to get most people there by 10 a.m. for appetizers and entertainment. Dinner will begin at noon.
Reservations are still being accepted. For more information, to reserve a spot or arrange a ride, call 764-0985 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.