Shepherd’s Feast

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Interview by Michael O’Hearn; Photo submitted

A Christmas tradition is looking for volunteers

Christmastime is filled with many traditions. Trees are decorated, gifts are wrapped, Christmas treats are baked.

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For Carlann Scherping and her husband, Dave, their tradition
involves transforming the Polk County Middle School into a banquet hall for the community and people who have nowhere to go on Christmas Day. Ross Fox, who was inspired by Hendersonville’s feast, started the Shepherd’s Feast in 2005 in Polk County.

Fox passed away in September and the Scherpings have been working to carry on the tradition when the torch passed to them. She said the feast, which is in the PCMS cafeteria on Christmas Day from 1 to 4 p.m., is catered by area businesses and restaurants in the “family style” and served on china donated for use by the Holy Cross Episcopal Church.

How did this tradition get started here in the county?

Ross Fox was volunteering in Hendersonville one year at their Shepherd’s Feast and he began talking with other volunteers at the event. He found out that many of the people at the feast had lost a spouse or had no place to go on Christmas. He asked himself, “How can we do something like this in Polk County?” And then he said, “Let’s make it happen.” I think it first started at the Congregational Church but then it was moved to the middle school because it was more central. I was teaching at the middle school and Dave and I said we would like to do this as a way to give back to the community on Christmas Day.

What roles do you and Dave play in bringing this event together?

I’m trying to round up volunteers and we still need more. After Ross passed away, we’ve had difficulty getting volunteers to put this event on and we’re asking for anyone who has helped in the past to contact us and help us find more people to help out, even if you just wrapped gifts for the children or donated sweet potatoes and desserts.

How does this tradition get to be so special for the community?

It’s a great way to fulfill the Christmas spirit of giving and you’re in a community that serves others when you’re at the feast. Dave and I want this to be done just like it always has been, and we definitely want to make sure it continues. It takes two days to set up something this big and we typically start setting up on the 23rd of December before serving on Christmas Day at 1 p.m. It’s a way to give the community a Christmas gift in the spirit of giving and sharing. People who are wealthy and can get Christmas dinner wherever they want can come in and volunteer and be with others. The people who come here have no families, and that’s what makes this so great. It’s a family style dinner served on white tablecloths and china and you are served at your table.

For you, what is the true meaning of Christmas?

That’s a good question. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus who came to change the world with the commandment that we love and serve one another selflessly. It should be a time of that. I don’t care about your religion and whether you believe in Jesus’s word, God’s word or Muhammad’s word. It’s why we’re here and I’m in. I’m in 100 percent.

To contact Scherping about volunteering for this year’s Shepherd’s Feast call 828-894-3253.