Thousands of Oklahoma families won't go hungry this Christmas now that a traditional holiday dinner was rescued in the eleventh hour.
As News 9 reported, the annual Red Andrews Christmas Dinner was called off because of the organizers' health problems. Then on Tuesday word came that it was back on. Now, there's a new plan to keep it going.
It's a Christmas staple here in Oklahoma City. Red Andrews, a former state representative, started the event back in the 1920s.
His great-nephew took over organizing it, but due to health reasons, it was canceled this year. Now, community leaders have established a non-profit organization to keep the tradition alive.
The giving spirit of Oklahomans shines through every year at the Red Andrews Christmas dinner in downtown Oklahoma City.
More than 6,000 people in need line up for hot meal. It takes nearly a thousand volunteers to make it happen on Christmas Day.
"Its long-time continuation is a proud legacy of this city," said chairman of the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner Foundation, Robert Goldman.
That legacy was in jeopardy when Andrews' nephew announced he could no longer take on such a massive effort.
"The dinner has to go on," organizer Betty McCord said. "I just always feel like it has to go on."
Local leaders reached out to the Andrews family and on Wednesday announced plans to restructure, establishing the Red Andrews Christmas Dinner Foundation.
"The response of the community through phone calls and social media has been overwhelming," Goldman said.
Larry Castle was only 8 years old when his uncle started the tradition more than 65 years ago.
"I was a young man when I first started helping him, and I appreciate very much the fact that this group is willing to take on the obligation and, I think, a lot of fun that we have putting this together," Castle said.
"It seems like every year it gets a little better, so I guess it'll keep going," McCord said.
New toys and clothing for children are also provided at the dinner. Donations can be made to the foundation at any UMB Oklahoma branch location.
The Red Andrews Christmas dinner will be held at the Cox Convention Center again this year on Christmas Day. And they still need volunteers. To help, call the foundation at (405) 935-8547 or (405) 473-3967.