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A place at the table for Alice's meal

Updated: Monday, December 23 2013, 10:33 AM CST
Written by: Sherry Christian
Contributor: Rachel Snody (

With just two days until Christmas, many folks in Central PA are finishing up their shopping for gifts and food and preparing to receive guests for the holidays.

But, one Cumberland County woman is making a difference in the lives of those who don't or can't go somewhere for Christmas.

Alice Swengel and her elves unloaded the last of the groceries and supplies for the big Christmas meal at Susquehanna View Apartments in Camp Hill.

For the past 5 years, Alice has been purchasing, cooking and serving a meal for the seniors who live here.  This year, the meal will be for three dozen residents.

People like Shirlee Bredeen, who really don't have anywhere to go on Christmas.  "Christmas day I'd be sitting in my apartment just like so many others.  There are so many people in here that don't want to go out, they don't have anywhere to just fullfils us."

And as much as it fulfills Shirlee and the other residents, Alice says it's just as fulfilling for her.  "It's rewarding to do this, for me it's a blessing."

Alice says it was really her mom Jean's idea, to cook for these folks, because Jean used to live there.  And they turned it into a family affair, recruiting cousins, nephews and siblings, who all volunteer their time.

In just two days, the tables will be filled with people enjoying Christmas meal, but Alice and her elves provide so much more than food.  "For her to come here and take her time and do all the cooking and everything it's just unbelievable," said Mike Stewart.

It's actually Alice's belief in Jesus, that calls her to serve others.  "There are so many elderly people who don't have somewhere to go on Christmas or people to enjoy Christmas with and you should always have the joy of Christmas in your hearts."

A place at the table for Alice's meal

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