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Article updated: 12/25/2012 3:31 PM

Lazarus House draws crowd for annual Christmas brunch

Pastor Dave Mann of the St. Charles Free Methodist Church leads a packed dining hall in a prayer of thanks.

Pastor Dave Mann of the St. Charles Free Methodist Church leads a packed dining hall in a prayer of thanks.

 

James Fuller | Staff Photographer

More than 40 different dishes, not counting desserts, are laid out for any member of the community to partake in during the brunch.

More than 40 different dishes, not counting desserts, are laid out for any member of the community to partake in during the brunch.

 

James Fuller | Staff Photographer

Liz Eakins, executive director of Lazarus House, left, and Operations Manager Wanda Hochstetter greet dozens of attendees of all ages and backgrounds.

Liz Eakins, executive director of Lazarus House, left, and Operations Manager Wanda Hochstetter greet dozens of attendees of all ages and backgrounds.

 

James Fuller | Staff Photographer

A three-person band plays Christmas songs to entertain.

A three-person band plays Christmas songs to entertain.

 

James Fuller | Staff Photographer

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The food just seemed to keep walking through the door. A tray of potatoes. A trough of green beans. Glazed hams still warm from the kitchens that cooked them.

There was no shortage of either food or camaraderie at the annual Lazarus House Christmas Brunch in St. Charles Tuesday.

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The local nonprofit teams up with the St. Charles Free Methodist Church every year to host a community meal that is free and open to anyone who wishes to partake in the food and festivities. In the down economy, the number of people at the brunch has been up, but every inch of the food table was occupied with donated dishes as well.

"I don't think we're going to run out of food," joked Liz Eakins, the executive director of Lazarus House. Eakins spent only a short time in the dining hall on a microphone greeting all who gathered. She spent most of the day at the doors trying to make every person who walked in feel truly welcome.

"This brunch is a chance for our guests to be part of this wonderful community and to not feel alone on Christmas Day," Eakins said.

Dave Mann, pastor of the church, led the group gathered in a prayer of thanks. But he spent a good portion of his time overseeing the model trains set up to entertain children. Mann maneuvered at least three different trains through a lighted miniature village as children watched and smiled.

Leftover food was sent home with attendees who could best use it or packaged off to local police and fire stations for a holiday treat.

Lazarus House is a not-for-profit organization that provides food, shelter and support services to homeless people in the Tri-Cities and western rural Kane County. The organization serves more than 63 people every day at its shelter.

Lazarus House officials are still collecting donations of cash and gift cards to local stores and pharmacies for families who can use a little help in the down economy. Contributions are tax deductible and can be made through the organization's website: www.lazarushouseonline.com.

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