Hungry crowds and Christmas shoppers turned out this past Sunday at the Pacific Eagles Hall for the community dinner and Christmas celebration.

The annual event is a joint effort of the Eagles Aerie and Auxiliary that provides a free dinner to the entire community in the style of a family gathering.

“It’s a way to get everybody out,” said Bob McDermott, Eagles president who chaired the event with his wife Peggy.

“It’s not about feeding people in need,” he said. “It’s about good cheer and we all need that.”

Volunteers cooked and served more than 300 free dinners of turkey, ham and all the trimmings. A dessert table was filled with donated homemade desserts.

“Actually everything was donated, even the labor,” McDermott said. “Most of the volunteers are members of the Eagles, but we had a few nonmembers show up just to work.

“This year was spectacular in the way local businesses and private citizens donated turkeys, hams and money for the meal,” he added. “We (the regular Eagles kitchen crew) did all the cooking except the desserts, but the community provided the food.”

Four years ago Peggy McDermott invited local fair vendors to show their wares at the event. This year, 14 arts, crafts and food vendors set up tables filled with Christmas gifts.

Among the items offered were chocolates molded into Santas; Christmas trees; vintage steam engines; found metal objects sculpted into ETs, robots, cigarette girls, airplanes and trains; one of a kind jewelry; quilts and embroidered items; stainless steel knives; rows of colorful scarves; sock caps and mittens; Christmas decorations; and an array of women’s defense items marketed by Damsels in Distress.

“We just hoped for things that would let people get in some last-minute Christmas shopping,” Peggy McDermott said. “We told the vendors this was about Christmas.”