The holiday spirit was bustling in East Meadow on Sunday at the . The congregation held their annual Christmas fundraiser dinner. There were approximately 80 members in attendance, making the event full and joyous.
The congregation adopts a family in need every year. St. Francis fundraises through this dinner to provide necessities for that family.
"We have three dinners a year, but this dinner is meant to fundraise for the family that we adopt," Reverend Andrzej Koterba explained.
The evening was full of festivities. Throughout the church hall, there were smells of homemade Christmas dinner, sounds of happy chatter and children running around, excited at the thought of meeting Santa Claus.
Giving is definitely a sentiment that the church members were comfortable with. The congregation held a raffle where almost all members participated. A donation box for the adopted family was brimming with dollar bills. The church also had a "wish list tree," a tree filled with cards on ornaments that list an item that the church needs. Churchgoers are able to pick any ornament that they want, and then they can purchase and donate that item to the church. Everyone was so willing to give generously, which contributed to the true Christmas spirit felt throughout the evening.
St. Francis also gave out Polish wafers. The wafers are used at Christmas dinner on Christmas everyone breaks off a piece of the wafer, symbolizing peace for the year to come.
The children, especially Natalie, 5, and Adam, 4, were more than happy to chat with a newcomer. They both eagerly explained what they wanted Santa Claus to bring them: a Lego jet, Batman, a glowdome and a remote control helicopter.
Before digging in to the wonderful home-cooked meal, Reverend Koterba delivered a beautiful blessing on the food.
A surprise visitor came in the middle of the raffle, ringing jingle bells and jollily greeting the children – it was Santa Claus! He gave a gift to each of the children in attendance, who were delighted to sit on his lap and smile for a lovely picture.
The night offered a sense of family and home that is rare. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and loving.
"We welcome everybody and we appreciate greatly the generosity of our congregation," Joni Blenn, the vice president, said.