10th annual Community Christmas Dinner in Pembroke
On Dec. 7, Scotiabank made their annual $2,000 to the Community Christmas Dinner. Pictured here (from left) are PBIA manager and Community Christmas Dinner committee member Heather Sutherland, Giant Tiger owner and committee member Lou Hammil, and Scotiabank community manager Stacey Kelly.
This Christmas, all are welcome to join their neighbours for a free holiday meal at the 10th annual Community Christmas Dinner.
Taking place on Christmas Day between noon and 3 p.m. at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church (454 Miller St.), all are welcome to enjoy the free holiday meal and engage in a spirited afternoon of conversation with their community neighbours.
The meal is a cooperative effort between Giant Tiger - with owner Lou Hammill and his family taking part - the Pembroke Business Improvement Area, St. Luke's Anglican Church and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. Jamie Waito and his cooks from Dreams Catering prepare the dinner, while drivers with the Pembroke Handi-Bus volunteering to deliver meals to shut-ins and taxi folks to and from the dinner.
As per tradition, the hearty dinner will include turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and all the trimmings.
According to Hammil, the purpose of the Community Christmas Dinner is to ensure that people who might not otherwise have a festive meal would enjoy one.
Hammil expressed that the dinner serves a growing need in the community, as indicated by attendance which has climbed from about 200 in the first year to close to 400 last year.
Staging a Christmas dinner for that many people is no small undertaking and the organizing committee receives support from many members of the community to ensure that it’s a success year after year.
“We could serve upwards of 400 meals on Christmas Day and we're prepared for more than that. So if we suddenly get a surge, we're not going to run out of food,” said Hammil. “We've grown 40 per cent over the last 10 years.”
A few days prior to Christmas and on the big day itself, a team of more than 50 volunteers help to set up the venue, prepare and cook the meal, serve to the hundreds of attendees, deliver to shut-ins and clean up afterwards.
While there are more than enough volunteers to assist with preparations, Hammil said that they’re seeking community members to kindly take part in the meal and serve as ‘chatters’.
“We have all of the volunteers we need, but if someone wants to come and enjoy a meal and be a chatter – which means sitting with others and engaging in conversation with them, because a lot of these people are alone or by themselves – we invite the community to come out, enjoy a meal and sit with people and chat with them. That's the best volunteerism you can do on Christmas Day is providing your company to others,” said Hammil.
To cover the cost of food and other supplies, many local businesses provide generous donations to the dinner, including an annual $2,000 donation from Scotiabank for the past seven years.
“We believe that this is a great way to help our community as we think it is very important for everyone in the community to have access to a Christmas dinner – everybody deserves that,” said Scotiabank community manager Stacey Kelly. “We're happy to help in a small way, by making our annual donation.”
Giant Tiger will be selling icons from Dec. 10 to Christmas Eve for a $1 apiece, to help with any additional expenses.
Anyone looking for meal delivery or pickup can contact the Downtown Pembroke office at 613-629-5555 to make arrangements.