Pedro's to provide free Christmas dinner for needy
By Anna Krejci, Dells Events
Families with limited resources have an invitation to eat a free traditional holiday meal at Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant on Christmas Day.
Michelle Burch, general manager and part owner of Pedro’s, is organizing the meal with the Central Wisconsin Community Action Council. Low-income families living in the Dells School District eligible to use the local food pantry are also eligible for the free dinner. Vouchers are available at the CWCAC food pantry from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Thursdays.
Burch has a personal reason for starting a free Christmas Day meal. She said she wanted to begin a new tradition after her husband, Ron, died in April. Burch said she and Ron were married for 17 years and have two children ages 15 and 11.
She said Ron worked at a variety of places in the Dells including the Chalet, Ho-Chunk Casino, Chula Vista Resort, Family Dollar, Kalahari, Famous Dave’s and the dog track that used to be in Lake Delton. Michelle said he mostly worked as a bartender.
“I tried to think of something different we could do,” she said.
Had Ron not died, Michelle said she and her children would probably open gifts in the morning on Dec. 25 and visit her mom for dinner.
Now she’s inviting her friends and family to help her make a memorable Christmas for other people who may be experiencing hard times, for financial reasons.
“It just started out as an idea I had one night,” she said of hosting a meal. “And I was talking it over with a couple of girlfriends. And it just kind of evolved from that,” she said. “Almost everybody I talk to about it and I know, want to be involved somehow and want to help,” she said. “That’s cool.”
Wal-Mart, Zinke’s Village Market and Sysco are donating items for the meal. Pedro’s is supplying the ham and turkey. The menu also includes stuffing, potatoes, corn, rolls, dessert and beverages.
Burch said 268 people have signed up for the dinner, and she expects she might get several more hundred people to come. The restaurant accommodates about 250 people so guests will be assigned a time to come between noon and 4 p.m. Christmas Day.
Pedro’s will be closed to the general public on Christmas.
Caroling while guests dine and a party for volunteers afterward are planned, according to Burch.
Kim McClelland, CWCAC food pantry coordinator, said the event will be good for people who are struggling financially. “It’s wonderful,” she said.
McClelland said Michelle first called interested in doing a meal for Thanksgiving but learned that Denny’s in Wisconsin Dells already does a meal. The CWCAC staff suggested fixing a meal for Christmas, and McClelland is unaware of anyone else in town that does one besides Michelle.
“To my knowledge, she’s the first. There definitely could be other people in the community that do it, but I’ve not heard of any of them,” she said.