More than six-hundred people gathered for a Christmas Day meal in Gary Wednesday, and Gary State Representative Dr. Vernon Smith was among those serving. More than seventy volunteers helped put together the Annual Spirit of Christmas Dinner led by Dr. Smith in honor of his mother, the Reverend Julia Smith, who served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, and Patricia Tillotson, former educator in the Gary School System. Dr. Smith says the event is primarily for residents of Gary, Merrillville, Griffith, New Chicago, Lake Station, and Hobart, but anyone from Lake County or anywhere else is welcome. In particular, Dr. Smith says it's meant for those who are poor and hungry, senior citizens, and others, who will be away from family and friends, to attend. The dinner was held at the Ivy Tech Gary campus. Dr. Smith says dinner's popularity has grown dramatically since the first one was held in 1987. Representative Smith hosts the dinner with Joyce Washington-Price, Dwight Pointer, Dwight Williams, and Robin Bernal.