The most notable change is the move to a different venue. Instead of holding the event at the Cartersville Civic Center as in past years, organizers were forced to move to the Cartersville First Presbyterian Church, 183 W. Main St., on the corner of Main and Bartow streets, due to a scheduling conflict. Organizer Tina Jennings said the luncheon would move back to the civic center next year.
Along with the location change, the event’s hours have shifted to 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jennings said the times more accurately reflect when the luncheon is serving the most guests.
“The reason why we did that is people came early anyway and we would be able to start serving earlier and then it dropped off. Nobody came between 2 and 3, and the venue is a little bit smaller this year, so we felt like if we can start serving them earlier and if they’re not going to come later anyway, then we can serve more people beginning earlier. Then we can go as long as we need to, but it just has always dropped off eventually around 2 o’clock,” she said.
On the menu are a variety of dishes, including roasted turkey, sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes and gravy, and donated desserts made by Bartow County residents. Dessert donations are still being accepted.
For residents who need assistance in making it to the luncheon, Bartow Transit is again providing free transportation. Contact Bartow Transit at 770-387-5165 to schedule a ride. Those interested are asked to call at least 24 hours in advance.
Jennings said the past five years of organizing the luncheon have gone by quickly. It would not be possible, she said, if not for the “great community” in Bartow County.
“Well, when Toyo first approached us we didn’t realize the need at the time, and then the economy just kept getting worse and worse, so we fed more and more people. Every year we think that the economy will get better and the need will be less, and that has been the opposite,” Jennings said. “Every year we think, ‘Oh, it’s getting a little bit better,’ but then when we talk to the people at the food pantries for the can-a-thon and we talk to the local charities, [we find] that the need is just growing. So until that abates then the need for the Community Christmas Luncheon is there.”
Jennings said any credit for what the luncheon does for the community should go to Toyo and the volunteers.
“I’m just a very, very small part in this and it’s the community that does it and Toyo that allows it to happen. That’s really where I guess the credit needs to go. Toyo, and the volunteers that Toyo provides as well, ... gets the credit for the Community Christmas Luncheon. I just happen to be privileged enough to help put it together,” she said.
The luncheon is still in need of approximately 200 volunteers. Those interested in volunteering or donating a dessert should call Jennings at 678-899-9525.