St. Mary’s Parish Center Again Offering Free Christmas Dinner

Dec 05, 2018

As has been a tradition since 2010, St. Mary’s Parish Center is opening its doors to those who want to enjoy a free Christmas Day meal. With help from the Knights of Columbus Council 3826, the volunteers there will be serving dinner from noon to 3 p.m. at the center, located on 100 Bishop Lane, Manahawkin, but it’s important to register as soon as possible.

The tradition began when the Rua family, St. Mary’s parishioners, and their friends handed out hot meals in takeout containers to people they had observed living in cars or tents near Stafford Township’s Manahawkin Lake Park. They hung up signs at bus stops, government agencies and local stores to alert those people to the meal.

In 2011, Monsignor Ken Tuzeneu allowed the Ruas to use the parish center behind St. Mary of the Pines Church. More volunteers, from all faiths, joined in the effort, and soon they were serving hundreds of Christmas Day meals.

The dinner is available to those who are in need or will be alone on Christmas. In addition to a good, hot meal, donated hats, gloves, coats, scarves, clothing and canned goods will be provided.

“We know some families struggle to buy gifts for their children, so the holiday meal is the last thing on their list,” said Gail Rua. “We want families to have a nice meal in the company of others to share on this glorious day.”

To register for the dinner, arrange for transportation, donate gifts or learn more, call Mike or Gail Rua at 609-978-6508 until Dec. 22. —D.B.

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