WATERVILLE — Volunteers at the Waterville Area Soup Kitchen welcomed members of the community Sunday to the organization’s first Christmas lunch at The Lighthouse.

The soup kitchen moved in May to the space at 38 College Ave., making this its first Christmas at the location. Guests eagerly took advantage of the free meal, warm space and community atmosphere on a frigid Christmas Day.

“We see these people every day,” said Audra Weisel, a member of the soup kitchen’s board of directors and one of the cooks. “We know them and it’s a big family here.”

The Lighthouse was filled with checkered tables with red poinsettias as centerpieces, allowing people to gather with friends while enjoying lunch. Smiling volunteers served ham, baked potatoes, carrots, rolls, salad and pie.

Aaron Hess, left, shares a gift Sunday with Al Alton during the Christmas meal at The Lighthouse at 38 College Ave. in Waterville. Hess received a gift bag containing socks, hand warmers, a scarf and other items. He says Alton “is like a brother from another mother.” Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The Lighthouse is open Monday through Friday, Weisel said. Doors open at 9 a.m. so people have a place to warm up, and there are breakfast foods available. Lunch is served from 11:20 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., when The Lighthouse usually closes, but it sometimes stays open during inclement weather so people have a place to stay warm.

The Lighthouse has many regulars and usually serves between 100 and 150 meals per day, Weisel said. It also collects donated items, including blankets and tents, to give to those in need. During last Friday’s storm, volunteers were giving out blankets in grocery bags.


Before the soup kitchen had the College Avenue location, there was not usually a regular Christmas meal, Weisel said. And even this year, the plans only came together after organizers saw the response to the Thanksgiving lunch event.

In addition to planning the meal over the past several weeks, organizers have been asking many of the regulars at the soup kitchen if there is anything they would like for Christmas. Then, when community members asked how they can help this holiday season, organizers gave them specific items people were seeking, whether it be men’s boots in size 8 or a women’s winter jacket.

Volunteer Desiree Sirois hands out gift bags Sunday during the Christmas meal at The Lighthouse at 38 College Ave. in Waterville. The bags contain gloves, scarves, hand warmers and other items. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Organizers then distributed the gifts to people before lunch Sunday.

Scott Canney, 60, received a telephone calling card, which he plans to use to call his daughters. He said he hangs out at The Lighthouse every morning to get out of the cold, and Sunday’s lunch was “very, very great.”

Elaine Quinlan, 87, said she came to the lunch with her husband after reading about the event in the newspaper. The couple say they struggle to shop and cook, and this year their daughter had other plans, so they did not have family with whom they could have Christmas dinner. So they decided to venture to The Lighthouse for their meal, where they found the company they sought.

Quinlan said they enjoyed the meal, and she was thankful for the volunteers serving food.

“I’m just amazed,” she said. “It’s a good meal, and good people.”

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