News Local

Christmas Angels return to Petawawa

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer
Serving Christmas Day dinner at the Petawawa Civic Centre were volunteers (left to right) Lynn Murphy, Robyn Buchcic, Ray Serre and Joyce Serre. The Christmas Angels Community Dinner returned Monday with around 250 people enjoyed a fine meal and good companionship.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Serving Christmas Day dinner at the Petawawa Civic Centre were volunteers (left to right) Lynn Murphy, Robyn Buchcic, Ray Serre and Joyce Serre. The Christmas Angels Community Dinner returned Monday with around 250 people enjoyed a fine meal and good companionship.

PETAWAWA - The Christmas Angels Community Dinner was back Monday providing a warm, comforting place for folks who had no place to go for a holiday meal.

After a one-year absence, the dinner was in a new venue but was full of the same Christmas cheer. Organizers estimate over 200 people attended the luncheon held in the main hall of the Petawawa Civic Centre.

“We were so blessed this year,” said organizer Gloria Deane-Freeman. “Everyone is happy and that's what it is all about. The response has been very positive.”

The meal of turkey, potatoes, corn, gravy and stuffing was prepared by Schmidt's Catering, while Hyska's Independent Grocer is a major sponsor and donor. Organizers also thanked the many community donors who financially back the dinner but wished to remain anonymous.

At its height during the Afghanistan combat mission, Petawawa was deploying more than 2,000 troops to Kandahar, with most of those tours coinciding with the holiday season. The luncheon would have served as many as 300 people annually. With the garrison sending troops on deployments to Latvia, the Ukraine, Iraq and Kuwait, organizers believe their will be more of a need for this festive event.

“People are so happy to come back,” added co-organizer Kim Clouthier. “They missed it so much.”

In addition, 65 dinners were delivered to those within Petawawa who have limited mobility, are suffering from illness or are shut-in.

Petawawa's Madill family once more provided some holiday music with a selection of traditional carols and modern Christmas hits. Children attending were surprised by a quick visit from Santa Claus, who stopped by Petawawa on his way back to the North Pole. According to the NORAD Santa Track website, Santa is estimated to have delivered a record 7,281,439,471 toys on Christmas Eve.

Making the event possible was a small army of 31 volunteers. Among them was Dean Wagner, who has worked on the dinner from its inception as a chef.

“It's good to be back,” said Wagner adding he was glad to see the event return as a Christmas Day tradition. “This has been such a good thing.”

Micheline Thalman was one of the first-time volunteers. Coming to the dinner with her daughter, who was visiting from Halifax, she was washing dishes in the kitchen but was pleased to put in a shift.

“Christmas is a time for family, a lot of gifts and a lot of blessings, so we thought it would be nice to share in that and give back,” noted Thalman.

SChase@postmedia.com