KAPAA — Mike Pierce and volunteers from Calvary Chapel North Shore Kauai served up Christmas dinners Monday at the Chicken in a Barrel, Kapaa, and hundreds of people showed up.
“This is amazing,” said Ray Peralta.
Pierce said they’ve been serving the free feast for the past seven years.
“It’s always on Christmas, and the meal is free,” Pierce said. “This is in honor of my mother. She used to do it at a small place called Murphy’s in California. When we moved here, we wanted to do this, but everyone said it was Christmas and they didn’t want to work. When we opened our Chicken in a Barrel, we started doing this, and we’re now in our eighth year.”
Lindsay Dahlin, visiting from Austin, Texas, was among the diners of the free Christmas meal.
“We heard about Chicken in a Barrel and were planning to lunch here,” Dahlin said. “When we got here, we were surprised with the free meal. This is incredible.”
Pierce said the menu is not from the usual Chicken in a Barrel offering.
“This is Christmas food,” he said. “All the people here are volunteers. I have my wife, son, daughters, and even grandchildren, helping. We serve up ham, smoked turkey (using the barrels we use for the chicken), and all the fixings. It’s a Christmas meal. And, at Calvary Chapel, we received a bunch of toys from the motorcycle riders, so every keiki leaves with a toy.”
Pierce anticipated serving upwards of 800 meals from the noon starting time to 4 p.m., or as Keoni DeMello said, “until the food runs out.”
“Last year, we did between 650 to 700 meals,” Pierce said. “This year, we have food for more than that. I figure we’ll end up with more than 800 meals being served.”
Nicole Pepper was one of Pierce’s daughter helping at the event where Malani Bilyeu provided entertainment for diners that overflowed the small restaurant on the corner of Kou Street and Kuhio Highway.
“I remember doing this as a child in California,” Pepper said. “That was long before we moved here. Now, I’ve got my daughter and her children here, helping.”
Pierce referred to a parable in why people come out to help on Christmas Day.
“Did you hear the tale of the young boy who was trying to put back the hundreds of starfish that washed ashore following a storm?” Pierce said. “A passerby watched the boy put back fish after fish and finally approached him, saying ‘Why do you do this? There are hundreds and hundreds, to which the young boy replied, holding up a starfish — I might not make a difference to all, but for this one, and the ones that are back in the water, I made a difference.’”