SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — Community dinners were held in Neosho and Lamar on Christmas Day.

Volunteers put on a dinner for close to 600 people in Neosho as part of KNOE Radio’s annual Community Christmas Dinner at the Civic.

Before the dinner at the Civic, around 300 to-go meals were sent out into the community to those in need.

“We’ve had people actually that have came to us and said, ‘If we could get some meals, we know of a family here in the area that aren’t going to have a meal today and since your drivers can’t go that far out in the radius to get the food delivered, we’ll come and pick up meals and take it to those families as well,'” said Mark Taylor, general manager of KNEO-FM. “There’s a lot of variations on how this works together and I think it’s just people serving each other.”

Officials say over 50 volunteers helped to make the event possible.

In Lamar, people were busy spreading the Christmas spirit at Lamar Methodist Church’s annual community Christmas dinner.

For over a week, volunteers had been hard at work to prepare 700 meals for residents of Lamar and surrounding communities.

To make all those meals, it took roughly 120 loaves of bread, 44 turkeys, 40 hams and 40 gallons of green beans.

The tradition began 30 years ago when Tom Shields saw a need to provide meals for those in need or who worked during the holidays.

“I just started it,” Shields said. “Since the first year, we had 75 people show up. We didn’t know how many were were going to get. This year, we’re right at 700 meals we’ve served today.”

Shields said he plans to donate any money from the dinner to those affected by this month’s tornadoes in Missouri and Kentucky.