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      Kroc Center hosts a Christmas dinner for 500

      Hundreds of residents throughout the Quincy area spent Christmas afternoon at the Kroc Center Tuesday.

      Christmas music, turkey, pie and high spirits filled the gymnasium before the event officially began.

      The annual Salvation Army Christmas dinner has been a staple in Quincy for decades.

      "We've been serving a Christmas meal in Quincy for probably 60 years at least," Major Dan Jennings said.

      "Christmas music is playing, the ham is cooking, everyone's having a great time around the table," Jennings said. "Spontaneous Christmas carols have erupted through the building, so what a great Day!"

      "I think it's better to give than get, so we're helping them," Tori Woodcock, an 11-year-old volunteer said.

      "It means a whole lot to me to take time out of my Christmas and give it to other who may not have much of a Christmas as we do," Bo Paxton, an 11-year-old volunteer said. "Some of them are homeless or are in hard times right now."

      "I'm so impressed to see so many people take time out of their Christmas schedule. Christmas is such a busy holiday. But they come down here and help put this meal on. And I think it's a blessing to be able to serve people who are less fortunate than you to realize how blessed your really are," Jennings said.

      "I'm just feeling really happy about seeing everybody," Paxton said.

      "I don't know how to explain it, but it's really fun to see how you brighten up their day," Woodcock said.

      More than 150 volunteers spent time on Christmas to help serve the food to more than 500 people.

      It was all hands on deck at the Kroc Center Monday evening as staff prepared for the annual dinner.

      "The old saying, it's better to give than receive ... that's certainly the case with the volunteers that come in. It's something they really enjoy. It's great to see families, mom and dad come in with the kids and have them help serve. It shows them that this is the Christmas spirit and truly a way to give back," Chad Rogers, the operations director at the Kroc Center, said.

      "When we have the meal, that's really when volunteers kick into gear and they help serve people. They serve the food. They cut up the pies and get those ready," Rogers said.

      There's no question just how much effort goes into this once a year tradition and it's the community that helps take on some of the costs.

      "We could not prepare a meal at the level that we do without the volunteer help we get throughout the community. Quincy has always had a great tradition in coming out and helping people in need. So, this is just one opportunity for them to give back with the Christmas spirit," Rogers said.

      The Christmas dinner began inside the Kroc Center's gymnasium Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. There are no restrictions on who can attend the Christmas dinner, but there are rules when you arrive. To consider yourself family and come back again next year.