A line of people waiting for a free Christmas dinner zig-zagged around the Carson Nugget casino Friday.
"We have a lot of families and a lot of kids who really need the meal," said Alex Canas, the Nugget's executive chef and food and beverage director. "People who can't really afford the holidays. People who are unemployed and people who just want to get a free meal."
The Nugget has been serving the Christmas meal since 1957, donating about $10,000 this year to serve about 500 turkey dinners from 11 a.m. to
2 p.m. When the doors opened Friday morning, Canas said the Nugget coffee shop filled up within 15 minutes.
Candy Colberts, 37, brought her three children to the Christmas dinner on Friday.
"It's actually been a better Christmas for us this year, we were actually homeless for the last couple years," Colberts said. "My kids were put back into my custody on Oct. 30 from (Child Protective Services) so it's really a big Christmas for us. We're reunited."
Nelson Neiman, 67, and his wife, Kim, 55, and son, Daniel, 20, were volunteering at the coffee shop by bussing tables and topping off coffee mugs on Friday.
"We're blessed and had a wonderful Christmas and opened all of our presents and it was all fabulous and it was time to give back to the community and to be able to give back to people who are not as fortunate as we are," Neiman said. "It's a wonderful feeling to be able to do it."
The Nugget kitchen was bustling as cooks and servers carried plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies and pumpkin pie to the dozens of people seated in the Nugget coffee shop.
Among those waiting for a meal was John Williams, 34, who came to the dinner with his family, roommate and friends.
"I know money is tight for all of us this time of year in this day and age," Williams said. "So something like this brings the community together."
Denise Thompson, 55, and Kipp Pfeiffer, 56, have been coming to the Christmas dinner for the past four years.
"It's nice that they do this for everyone," Thompson said.
Herman Papenburg, 63, was last in line for the dinner while he stood next to a row of slot machines. He said he comes to the dinner every year.
Papenburg, a maintenance worker at Walmart, said this Christmas isn't any different than previous years.
"I know a lot of friends here and it helps the community out and I like that they do it," Papenburg said.