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December 23, 2013

Oneonta's Christmas dinner tradition started in 1980s


“For a while the Friends of Christmas feared they wouldn’t be able to meet the demand,” it was reported on Dec. 26, 1991, “but fortunately, contributions increased.” 

“People know times are tough and want to help others out,” London said. “It’s depressing for people to be alone during Christmas, especially if they have no money.” Volunteers and people who couldn’t be with family also found the dinner to be an enjoyable occasion.

By 1991 two of the tireless Friends were more than 70 years old and looking for successors, but still set their sights high.

London suggested that the time may have come for a soup kitchen in Oneonta.

“This is just one dinner out of 365,” she said. “We need to do more.” It wouldn’t be long before a soup kitchen became a reality, as Saturday’s Bread began in 1992 at the First United Methodist Church.

This weekend: We’ll look at some leftover local news items from 1888 that will likely raise a few eyebrows.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at

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