The Christmas Spirit was alive and well in Great Falls on Monday.
Hundreds of Great Falls area families celebrated the holiday at the Danny Berg Memorial Christmas Dinner.
Great Falls resident Danny Berg started the meal in 1993, which fed around 60 people that year.
Organizers say since then, the event has grown to produce around 500 meals.
Great Falls artist Brian Morger says he paints a Santa each year, and this year, his Santa model wanted to donate the portrait to the foundation that hosts the annual dinner.
Fort Benton resident and Santa model Don Bradshaw says he wanted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the event while honoring the late Danny Berg, who came up with the idea for the dinner.
"The beautiful thing is, Brian knew Danny personally before he passed, so when I said, 'Let's donate it to the Danny Berg Christmas dinner', he said 'I'm for it. Yeah, great idea,'" said Bradshaw.
Organizers say the dinner has been a tradition in the community and stems from the idea that no one should be alone on Christmas.
(DECEMBER 24, 2017) About 45 volunteers from the Montana Air National Guard including current and former members and their families prepared the annual Danny Berg Memorial Christmas Dinner on Sunday morning.
The Christmas dinner will take place on Monday at the Senior Citizen Center downtown.
The Guard cooked 50 turkeys, around 15 gallons of gravy, and 20 trays of stuffing.
All of the food and ingredients for the meal were donated.
The Christmas dinner is expected to feed around 450 people.
According to Master Sergeant Bob Osier, the Montana Air National Guard coordinates with the Senior Citizens Center.
"We're got the capacity and the volunteerism," Osier said. "They couldn't turn out this many meals otherwise."
The Danny Berg Memorial Dinner has been serving holiday meals in Great Falls for the past 25 years.
The annual event started in 1993 by feeding 60 people and has since grown to serve about 500 meals.
It started because Berg didn't want anyone to be alone on Christmas.
120th Airlift Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant Steve Lynch believes the dinner helps honor Berg's legacy.
"I think it's something that we take on with a great deal of pride," he said. "It's something that has become ours that he inspired for us to do."
Once the meal is prepared, Guard members will deliver the food to the Senior Citizen Center.
The Danny Berg Memorial Christmas Dinner will run from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday.