---- — SEABROOK — No one should feel lonely during the holidays, and some businesses and volunteers are again coming together to offer a free holiday dinner from 3 to 7 p.m. at Seabrook’s Community Center on Saturday, Dec. 22, to ensure no one does.
There are no state or town borders during the winter holidays, according to Chad and Jennifer Luby, owners of The Butcher Shop, Fish Market and Restaurant on Route 1 in Hampton Falls, who have spearheaded the dinner for the past five years. All are welcome at the event known as the Gift of Giving. Come, they urge, and share the good food and sense of camaraderie that could be missing in some households.
“You don’t have to be homeless to come,” Chad Luby said. “Some people don’t have family in the area. Some people are alone, especially the elderly, and we don’t want people to just open up a can of soup. We want them to come and enjoy the meal and share in the holiday spirit with us at the Gift of Giving.”
“The holidays can be a very sad time for some people,” Jennifer Luby added. “We want people to know -- like parents who are having a hard time providing for their families -- that this is a place where they can come and get a bit of love for the holidays.”
In years past, as many as 300 people have dropped in over the day and enjoyed a place to break bread with others, some old friends, some new.
The free meal was the idea of Jennifer Luby in 2008, her husband said. She’s always wanted to help people, he said, and since he had the skills and the platform at the Butcher Shop, the project took off, initially by collecting small donations of food and other needed items from dozens of people and businesses in the region.
But the event grew to a point that area businesses and service organizations now contribute to support the event. This year, Chad Luby said, they include Dodge’s Agway, Taylor River Farm, Provident Bank’s Seabrook branch, the Hampton Rotary, Pepsi Distributors, Applecrest Farm, and of course, Seabrook’s firefighters who have historically helped out during the winter holiday season.
“We set up for the event, help with serving and the clean up,” said Seabrook firefighter Mark Bibaud, who is also organizing the fire department’s annual Seabrook Toy Bank this year.
And the firefighters and the Lubys have a special relationship with Santa Claus.
“Santa will be at the Gift of Giving,” Jennifer Luby said. “And every child will leave with a smile.”
There is a major change this year in the dinner: It has a new location.
“We’ve changed the place where the dinner will take place this year to Seabrook Community Center,” Chad Luby said. “We think it’s a great place for the dinner.”
One of the ways everyone can support the event is simply to print out and distribute flyers. Those with computers and Internet access can go to Luby’s webpage, www.hamptonbutcher.com. Click on the “Gift of Giving,” tab on the top, then click on “flyer.”
“Print out a flyer and put it up some place to spread the word about the dinner and the new location,” Chad Luby said.
If people want to help out a little more, baking goodies is a good choice.
“We go through desserts like crazy,” Jennifer Luby said. “So, if people want to drop some off, that would be great.”
A chef with culinary degrees from Rhode Island’s Johnson and Wales College, Chad Luby has served up thousands of meals over his career, but he’s always said that the Gift of Giving dinner is the most rewarding meal he’s ever cooked.
On the menu this year is smoked turkey and ham and all the fixins’, according to Luby.
Volunteers are welcome and can call the Butcher Shop at 603-929-7427 to sign up to help in this event that exemplifies the holiday spirit at its best.
Over the years, Jennifer Luby made an important discovery about the Gift of Giving.
“Working on this event, it’s the best Christmas gift people will ever give themselves,” she’s said.