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Lord's Day Dinner, like a seed, has grown; it now feeds 500

It began more than 20 years ago with a Christmas dinner in their home for about 30 needy people.

Today, the annual Lord's Day Dinner feeds up to 500 in a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in the city's south end.

"It just grew and grew," said Matthew A. Davis II, who hosts the dinner with his wife, Yvonne. "The need is still out there and it, too, keeps growing."

This year's dinner will be held from noon until 6 p.m. on Christmas Day in the VFW LaSalle Griffon Post 917, 2435 Seneca Ave.

The VFW post donates the hall every year for the occasion. The food -- turkeys, ham, yams, vegetables and dessert -- is all donated by local food stores.

"The working poor, senior citizens, children, the lonely and the displaced all come to us for their Christmas dinner," said Matthew Davis, who many years ago was among those in need.

"It was a rough time for us," he said, "and it was at that time that my wife and I had the idea for the Lord's Dinner."

Since then, it has become a family affair. The Davis' daughter, Tishnell, and their three sons, Matthew III, Imani and Michael, all help prepare, cook and serve the dinner.

"Our children all grew up with the Lord's Dinner," said their father. "It's been a part of their lives, and now, as adults, they want to keep giving. This is what Christmas is all about."

Davis and his wife also host dinners for needy families on Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving.

The generosity of people is what keeps the Lord's Day Dinner going. Davis said a local businessman, who asked to remain anonymous, recently donated a bus to transport the food from the various donors to the VFW hall.

"I couldn't believe," said Davis. "It's not every day someone gives you a bus."

More than 50 volunteers pitch in to prepare the hall for the dinner, serve the meals, wash the dishes and clean up afterwards, Davis said.

More than 100 toys, boxes of clothes and small appliances -- all donated from individuals and local companies -- will be given out during the day.

"It's a wonderful feeling when a little child leaves you a note and thanks you for giving him a Christmas he wouldn't otherwise have had," said Davis. "It's a beautiful thing."


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