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About 2000 Christmas dinners are served at Round the Clock Diner on Arsenal Road in Manchester Township, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017.

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As wind gusts neared 50 mph on Christmas Day, several people braved the bone-chilling temperatures outside  Round the Clock Diner in Manchester Township.

They were waiting for the doors to open at 11 a.m.  for the diner’s 11th annual Christmas dinner, in which guests are seated, dine and have dessert — pumpkin pie — all for the generous price of nothing.

“Our registers are closed,” said Catherine Sacarellos, wife of Round the Clock President Dimos Sacarellos. “We have buckets.”

Catherine and Dimos were greeting a long stream of guests as they arrived during the four-hour giveaway.

The diner, a family business, has been something Catherine’s son Demos Sacarellos, 18, has seen expand and develop, and the Christmas tradition is one he hopes stays as long as he’s involved with the business.

“I don’t see it stopping,” he said. “I firmly believe that this will live on as long as we’re here.”

Catherine Sacarellos estimated about 2,000 people would visit the diner in the four hours it was open on Christmas Day.

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The only item that was accepting payment were white plastic tubs with a small slot where patrons could deposit cash on their way out.

The diner's Christmas opening, an annual event  since 2006, has grown in scope and in expectation over the years, Catherine Sacarellos said, but the cash donations have remained.

Money raised each year ranges from about $6,500 to $7,000. In years past, the diner had donated 100 percent of donations to local charities such as Olivia’s House of York and the Children’s Home of York.

For the past four years, however, funds have been used for the Round the Clock Scholarship Fund, which helps fund the education of students overseas.

In the past year, the scholarship fund has helped pay for tuition, food and books for 22 students in Jamaica, according to Catherine Sacarellos.

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“Education there is not mandatory, and not everyone has access to schooling,” she said, “and the whole point of us holding this (Christmas) dinner is to help those in need.”

Nearly all of the products and services used during the Christmas dining hours were donated, from the Pepsi customers drank to the time of the dish washers in the back, several of whom were longtime customers wanting to lend a hand.

“Giving back to the community that has blessed us with a great business, we’re very fortunate — very blessed,” Catherine Sacarellos said.

Janet Ness and Bev Reindollar, both of Jacobus, decided to go to the diner as a consolation to an otherwise difficult 2017.

Ness said she lost her husband, daughter and sister this year.

“This is a good place to get away from all the bad that has happened,” Ness said, if only for a few hours.

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