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      Filling bellies with Easter dinner, and filling hearts with love

      Many families rely on the community dinner to provide them with a nice holiday meal. The company is good, and the food is tasty, but it's the dedicated volunteers that make the Easter dinner so special.

      For many people, Easter Sunday is a special time for a delicious meal at the family dinner table, but on Sunday, not everyone had their Easter dinner at home. More than 300 people enjoyed their holiday meal at the VFW Hall in Traverse City, for the 21st annual Community Easter Dinner.

      Many families rely on the community dinner to provide them with a nice holiday meal. The company is good, and the food is tasty, but it's the dedicated volunteers that make the Easter dinner so special.

      Volunteering her time to help out those in need is the way that Sandra Svec has spent her Easter Sunday for the past 21 years.

      "I know there's so many people that wont have something special to eat on that day," said Svec. "And to reach out to needy families, that's what my goal is."

      Sandra's passion for putting others before herself is something that doesn't go unnoticed either.

      "I kind of want to be doing this a lot more too," said young volunteer, Desima Stokes. "Like how she does it and runs it, a lot of people thank her. I want people to think of that about me too. That I did something good. And I can see the way that people look at her and it's good."

      100 dedicated volunteers worked together to make the annual community Easter dinner happen. There were 700 slices of ham, 720 pieces of chicken, and dozens of pie slices served at Sunday's meal. A meal that filled the bellies of more than 1,000 people. More importantly, filled their hearts.

      "They get to socialize," said long time volunteer, Gwen Stokes. "A lot of people live by themselves. We pick people up if they'd like to come in and eat here rather than having a meal delivered. Just the human contact is even more than probably the meal for them."

      900 meals were also delivered to people in need who couldn't make it out for the gathering. Without the annual tradition, Svec says that many people would just go without an Easter dinner.

      "I've had people call up and they try to talk to me and then they're in tears and I get in tears because they're so thankful for what has been done, and that means so much," smiled Svec.

      Organizers tell 7&4 News that they are in desperate need of food and money donations, in order to keep making the meals happen each year.

      For more information on how to get involved, you can email Gwen Stokes at gbstokes2005@att.net.