Share A Christmas Dinner has been a community service provided by Southern Standard for 32 years. Thanks to those that participate annually with donations, the event has become so much more.
“I started making a donation every year to Share in 1994 after my mother died,” said Dawn Wanamaker. “I wanted to memorialize her in a meaningful way and Share allowed me to do that.”
Share has been offered by the Standard since 1981 and provides dinners to deserving families in Warren County. Donations can be done in memory or in honor of someone, with the names printed in an edition of the Southern Standard.
It wasn’t until after Wanamaker became involved in Share 18 years ago that she found out her grandmother, Clemmie Lowry Patrick, also made an annual donation.
“I don’t know how long my grandmother had been donating to Share, but she was making an annual donation to memorialize other family members who had passed away,” said Wanamaker. “The annual donations became something special to my grandmother and me. We never missed a year.”
“We” became “I” on Oct. 19, 2012 when Patrick, affectionately known as “Mema” to those who knew her, passed away at age 95.
“Up until the day she passed away, she hated to receive presents,” said Wanamaker. “She would always say, ‘There is a little child hungry out there and I wished they would’ve spent the money on one.’ I think it was because she lived through the depression and she did without. She was our matriarch and she took care of us. Share gave her joy, because it allowed her to take care of others.”
Maybe taking their cue from Patrick, Wanamaker’s uncle and dad also made memorial donations to Share A Christmas Dinner.
Wanamaker says she will continue Mema’s tradition, just a few more names will be added to the memorial.
“I sat down at the table this morning thinking that if I don’t make Mema’s annual donation to Share she is going to be so mad at me,” she said. “I was in the middle of writing the checks and a thank you letter when the Standard called me about doing this article. I have to believe that God works in our lives, given the timing of that call.”
The family of Patrick would like to say “Thank you to everyone that supported our family as we lost “Mema” our Matriarch. For 95 years she was a light on the hill to all who knew her. Now she has gone on to her reward but left our paths brightly lit. Whether food, cards, flowers, monetary memorials, prayers, or just a visit, we are grateful and our cups runneth over.”
This year’s donation to Share A Christmas Dinner will be made from Greg and Dawn Wanamaker and their children Katie, Logan and Marah, and Tammy and Ronnie Lee and their child Julie, and Brandon and Allison Lowry and their children Alex and Ashlin in memory of Howard and Hilda Lowry, Ben Lowry, Clemmie Lowry Patrick, and Gerald and Pat Julian.
Along with the family’s donation, Wanamaker will also continue her own donation.
“I will continue to make annual donations to Share, until I am physically unable to,” she said. “Hopefully, my children will do it for me after that. I feel Share is the best way to share with others and in a way we can memorialize those that we love, because that is what they would have wanted.”
Wanamaker says she likes the fact that 100 percent of what she donates will go towards providing dinners to deserving families in Warren County.
“If you have ever wondered where your donation actually goes, you don’t have to do that with Share,” she said. “I like that.”
All the donations are used to purchase food items needed to make Christmas dinner, including hen, eggs, bread, rolls, butter, flour, corn meal, cake, icing, canned vegetables and fresh fruit.
Individuals receiving a meal must apply through the Department of Human Services. Letters with day, time and place of distribution will be sent to those who qualify.
Now is the time to Share. Donations are being accepted and can be dropped off or sent to the Southern Standard, attention Sharon Patrick, P.O. Box 150, McMinnville, Tenn. 37110. Checks can be made payable to Share A Christmas Dinner.