The Ottumwa Courier

December 8, 2012

Masonic Lodge prepares for 30th annual Christmas dinner

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The Masonic Lodge’s annual Christmas dinner brings together hundreds in the community to share in good food and good company.

“We’ve been doing this for 30 years, and we’ve served thousands of dinners,” said Chuck Osing. “We deliver to the shut-ins, and we make home deliveries.”

Osing started the dinners with Eugene Aldrich, of Centerville, in 1982, and he’s been at every single dinner since.

“We thought there was a need for some of the people who didn’t have a place to go for Christmas and were by themselves,” he said.

But it expanded, said Charles Wilt, with the Masons even serving 1,500 people at the dinner one year, compared to around 100 at the very first dinner.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger every year, and then it just exploded,” Osing said.

The Masons have been working on preparing the meals for a couple of months already, but there’s still a lot to do in the final weeks before the big day.

“The merchants help us a lot,” Osing said, as they receive a lot of donations for the mountains of food.

The smell of bacon drifted through the Masonic Empire Lodge on Church Street Friday afternoon as they prepared for a Community 1st Credit Union dinner set for today that will serve approximately 150 people. They definitely have experience serving large numbers of people, Osing said with a grin.

Osing hopes the dinners will continue for a long time. He also hopes the Masons will be able to recruit younger people, as the current Masons get older, to carry on the tradition.

The group needs volunteers to help serve the dinners at the temple and to deliver meals.

“We usually have 75 to 100 volunteers who just show up,” Osing said. “I’ve already had people calling, asking to volunteer.”

Just as the dinner itself has become a tradition, so has volunteering for several individuals and families in the community.

“The volunteers are the life blood of it, really,” Osing said.

They’ll never turn away a volunteer, Wilt said.

Osing said he hasn’t spent a Christmas at home for the past 30 years, but he doesn’t regret it. There’s a need for these dinners in the community, and he’s happy to be able to help.

“I’m pretty proud of what it’s become,” Osing said.



Masonic Lodge Christmas:

Masonic Temple, 611 E. Pennsylvania Ave.

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Christmas Day

Ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, rolls, desserts, coffee, milk and soda

Free home dinner deliveries are available, with a maximum of four dinners. Transportation will be provided for those who need it.

For transportation, reservations and home deliveries, call 641-682-9506. From Dec. 19-24, call between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and leave a message. On Dec. 25, call between 7-11:30 a.m.