By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BATAVIA - For the second year in a row, those in need in Clermont, Brown and Adams counties will have a place to go on Christmas Day for a hot meal, good entertainment and Santa.
"Everyone is just so giving and it has come together so well that it's just a good feeling that we can do something," said Haytham David, owner of Papa Galo's Restaurant in Batavia, where the festivities will take place.
The meal is the brainchild of Ed Ritchy, volunteer chief executive officer of the Homeless Hotline of Greater Cincinnati, located in Amelia.
Mr. Ritchy and Mr. David met about three years ago. Their meeting culminated in a lasting friendship and a joint effort to help the needy.
Mr. Ritchy has worked to help those in need in Clermont County for 13 years.
"We don't have one soup kitchen in the whole county," Mr. Ritchy said. "We've tried and tried and tried to get enough support to do a soup kitchen out here and we just haven't been able to do it. So this is our next best thing. We figure at least two days out of the year, no one has to go hungry."
The meals began last year and continued this November on Thanksgiving Day.
Both men hope to continue the event annually and have obtained support from a local homebuilder, Symmes Township-based Harvest Home Inc.
Besides hosting the meals at his restaurant, Mr. David donates the food, which is served by volunteers from his staff and some of his customers. Volunteers, though, are needed to help transport attendees to the restaurant at 2235 Bauer Road.
"We don't care if we serve one person on Thanksgiving or Christmas or we serve 500. The whole thing is if we're up and running then there is one place in Clermont County where a needy family or a senior citizen or someone who is developmentally disabled ... can come and get everything they want," Mr. Ritchy said, adding that the event is open to those in Adams and Brown counties as well.
The menu will include ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, vegetable salad, pasta salad, homemade soups, dinner rolls, apple pie, yams, and a streusel desert pizza. The meal will last from noon to 3 p.m. Christmas Day. There will be entertainment by the band HARVEST and toys from Santa for the kids.
For more information, to volunteer, or to attend, call the Homeless Hotline of Greater Cincinnati at 797-4344.
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