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Kim’s Country Kitchen provides Christmas meals for those in need

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Serving up home-cooked meals to the less fortunate on Christmas Eve has become an annual tradition for Kim Strong. Strong, who owns downtown restaurant Kim’s Country Kitchen with her husband Dennis, has cooked and delivered the dinners since the restaurant opened in 2007. “Lincoln has always been good to us since we’ve lived here and has always supported our business,” Strong said when asked why she provides the dinners. “This is a way of giving back.” Strong said “giving to others” is what the Christmas season is about, which is also part of the reason for the free Christmas Eve dinners. “It’s the self-satisfaction of trying to help where we feel like we need to help,” Strong said. “It’s something we can do.” Strong and a volunteer crew cooked 150 dinners last year, which were delivered by her husband and Ken Chiaratti. Those volunteers will be back this year to help, according to Strong. “They give up their Christmas Eve to help other people,” Strong said. “I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas any other way.” The dinners include turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, rolls and pumpkin pie. Delivering the meals “has made it easier to reach a larger number of people,” according to Strong. “When people have to come to you, I don’t think you reach everyone,” Strong said. “A lot of people want to stay anonymous. When we come to them, only one person knows where it (the meal) is going.” Strong said another reason for delivering the meals is to better serve Lincoln’s seniors. “A lot of the elderly couldn’t get to us because they couldn’t drive,” Strong said. “A lot of times, the elderly can’t get food baskets and they get forgotten.” In the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, Strong said, she places fliers at the senior apartments on Third Street, the trailer park and other apartment complexes to let residents know of the free dinner. “I always send out an extra 15 to 20 dinners so their neighbors next door can be fed, too,” Strong said. Chiaratti said delivering the meals is “a lot of fun.” “It’s just helping her (Kim Strong) out and sometimes I see people that I haven’t seen since I was a kid and it’s really neat to talk to them,” Chiaratti said. “People are so happy to get the stuff.” Jeannie Fritts said she helps Strong cook the dinners each year because “it’s a great addition to the community.” “It’s not whether you are poor or are family. If you are in need, she (Kim Strong) does it and I think it’s a great opportunity to help out the community,” Fritts said. “She does it not for any accolade; she just does it out of the goodness of her heart and those of us that do it with her do it for the same reason.” Dennis Strong, Kim Strong’s husband, said delivering the meals is “extremely rewarding.” “I think it’s a great thing because there’s a lot of people in the community, especially in the low-income areas, and senior citizens who may not have friends or family to have holidays with,” Dennis Strong said. “Because we are a part of the community, we feel that we should give back to the community.” ****************************************************** To reserve a dinner : To know how much food needs to be bought, Strong would like to hear from those in need of meals before Dec. 22. Reserve a Christmas Eve dinner by calling 645-2727.