WILTON — With Christmas just over six weeks away, the 3C Society is busy preparing for its annual Family Style Christmas Dinner. Topping the list of tasks is recruiting singers for a choir and volunteers to help with the Christmas Day event.

3C Society members, from left, Amanda Beane, Arlene Messelli, and Donna Dashnau pose with Santa at last year’s annual Family Style Christmas Dinner at the Harnden Masonic Hall in Wilton. Submitted photo

“Last year, we had two individuals sing and it was just wonderful,” said co-organizer Arleen Masselli, owner of Knowlton Corner Farm. “Those individuals are trying to get more people to join them this year.”

The idea was born after a fire destroyed a barn and stable at Knowlton Corner Farm in December 2011. “We lost a horse. We lost everything. For us, it was devastating,” Masselli said.

“If it had not been for the people in the community, we would have gone belly up. People showed up at my door from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day for weeks. They brought food for us, and hay and blankets for the horses. I can’t even tell you how many people helped. It was, and still is, mind-blowing.”

The response made Masselli want to give back to the community. She joined forces with Amanda Beane and Donna Dashnau and, in 2014, they hosted their first dinner. In 2016, the group formed the 3C Society. 3C stands for caring, compassion and community, which is what the meal is all about, Masselli said.

The women share a mission “to inspire our friends and community members to come together and make a difference in the lives of others” and “to make a positive impact in our community.”

The free meal is designed to be a community meal. It is not just for the needy but for everyone and especially those individuals, couples or families who might be alone on the holiday. Free transportation is available to those that need a ride.

“All are welcome,” she said. “The idea is for people to come together to enjoy the holiday. It is about camaraderie and companionship and … community. Community is the only word I can use to describe it.

A minimum of 100 people have attended the meal each year. Last year, Masselli said 150 people were served. “We hope to continue to grow but to do so, we need volunteers,” she said.

Volunteers are needed for a variety of duties. “We need volunteers to wait on people, help with the dishes, pick up and drop off people who need rides and many other tasks,” she said.

A photographer and Santa are also needed.

For those interested in volunteering but unable to help on Dec. 25, Masselli said extra hands are always needed for prepping food the day before.

The dinner will be held at Harnden Masonic Hall, 70 Bryant Road, from noon to 1:30 p.m. “The Masons have generously donated the use of the hall for the last four years,” Masselli said.

The menu includes traditional fare such as ham, squash, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls and pies. “There are lots and lots of pies,” she said.

Roast pork, coleslaw and popovers have been added to the menu this year, she added.

Most, but not all, of the food is donated, she said.

Those interested in volunteering or joining the choir should call Masselli at 778-6520.

For more information, find 3C Society on Facebook at facebook.com/3cSociety.


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