NORMAN, OKLA (Free Press) — Every year around the holidays, Norman residents are greeted by a big white sign, decorated with green and red lettering.
“FREE Christmas Day Community Dinner” it reads, followed by the tagline,
“No One Should Be Alone.”
That is because, in the midst of the holiday season, Bob Magarian and a group of some 200 volunteers gear up for the annual Norman Christmas Day Dinner.
The dinner, which provides traditional Christmas food, toys, and warm clothing is hosted in the Norman High School Cafeteria, 911 West Main Street, from 11 AM to 2 PM on December 25th.
It also offers food deliveries and carry out services, which are expanded this year due to the pandemic. Masks will be provided but not required.
Bob Magarian said his idea for the organization started in 1985 when he was haunted by the Holy Ghost and it.
He said his purpose in life was to start the community dinner and offer a good holiday to so many who miss it every year.
“I didn’t think I could. I was told by Norman agencies that we didn’t need it… The Holy Ghost pushed me, even though I didn’t want to.”
He would later host the first dinner in 1987, which only fed 24 people.
Since then, his organization feeds upwards of 2,000 people every Christmas and has kept the emphasis on a dinner for everyone, not just the needy.
He hopes to have a diverse community at the dinner atypical of most free meal services.
“The emphasis [is on] dinner for everyone.”
University students and faculty frequent the event, as well as the elderly and families of all ages.
As the sign’s tagline implies, Magarian’s community dinner is about more than offering food and goods.
He wants to foster a community, a place where both young and old can enjoy the company of others and help those feeling lonely.
“People wouldn’t have Christmas without this event. A lot of people are lonely out there, and people don’t talk about it.”
Seeing kids get toys and the elderly socializing is really rewarding, he said.
“The food is just the draw, the rest is the association with other people.”
Last year, they had to cancel the event for the first time due to the pandemic.
He worries that some of those people in desperate need of community and interaction may stay home, but also wonders if that isolation will drive more people to come.
“We wanted to be out, be with other people [during covid].”
“Please come, don’t stay home,” he pleads, praying that he can offer a Christmas to those of us left behind and forgotten.
The official foundation Facebook page is the “Norman Christmas Day Dinner Foundation”, and for any questions, Bob Magarian can be reached at 405-364-3273. They can always use volunteers and resources for next year’s dinner.
Last Updated December 24, 2021, 12:34 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor