The festive atmosphere at the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla brought thousands of people together for the annual Christmas Friendship Dinner.

Usually, Ken and Patricia Lewis volunteer for the event.

“I love doing the Christmas caroling and seeing Santa Claus and all that. It’s fun being in the community,” Patricia said.

This year, the Palmer couple was there as guests, celebrating their first holiday as foster parents.

“I have fostered five children in the last year,” she said.

Right now they’re caring for a nine-year-old and three-month-old girl they hope to adopt.

“It is very much a dream come true,” Patricia said. "My home was empty for a long time because my kids were all raised and now we get to play Santa Claus all over again."

The dinner welcomed people from all walks of life. It gives them a place to share good food and conversation.

“Loneliness is a tough thing,” said Linda Luberger, the kitchen lead for the dinner.  “If you’ve got family here it’s awesome but if you don’t, Christmas is very lonely. We offer a place where people can come unconditionally and have fellowship.”

Organizers estimated they fed up to 5,000 people at the Menard Center and delivered several hundred meals to people’s homes.

 

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