Through the generosity of the community, those in need will have two opportunities to enjoy Christmas dinner this year.
The Bread of Life is hosting one large sitting this year on Dec. 24. They typically held a dinner on Christmas Day, but over the past few years, the organization realized many of its clients were unable to attend with the lack of bus service on the holiday, so the decision was made to change the date.
Vice-president of the Bread of Life, David Whitworth, said the annual dinner was held on various days during the season in the past and will revert back to Christmas Eve to make it easier for staff, volunteers and guests.
“It is important to understand why we made the change,” Whitworth said. “We had a request from a large number of guests who are unable to attend on a day the buses aren’t running so that is our priority. Many guests also want (Christmas) day free to visit with extended family.”
He also said budget restraints were taken into consideration.
“We looked at the impact of overtime costs on our frugal budget,” Whitworth said. “And the other concern was our staff who work tirelessly all year. We would like them to have Christmas free to be with family.”
To accommodate the anticipated crowd of more than 100 guests, organizers also changed the location to the Trinity Church on the corner of Fifth Street and Angus Avenue. There will only be one seating after the doors open at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are required and can be picked up at the Bread of Life.
Another free community-wide dinner, complete with ham and turkey, will be held at Pizza Factory on Christmas Day.
When staff member Brian Calm saw an immediate reaction online about the change to the Bread of Life’s dinner, he stepped in to fill what he thought was a gap. Before long, he had a list of volunteers, including Denis Sauve and Rick Tucker, to help with organizing the event.
“I saw how unhappy people were and without knowing it was just changed to the 24th, I set up a dinner for the 25th,” Calm said. “This is different, though, it is open to anyone in the community who will be without a dinner on that day. That includes all those working on Christmas. Anyone who is lonely, homeless or without family can come.”
He said he wants to acknowledge everyone, regardless of social status, and recognize those who work on Christmas Day. Santa will join the festivities with gifts for children.
As well as feeding the community, Calm is also contributing to Ty Watson House hospice.
“It is the place people go for their final days and I found out they have no air conditioning in the upstairs rooms and no decent TV’s,” Calm said.
“Those are things I just thought they would already have. I have been collecting cash donations from other businesses so they can have a good Christmas.”
Three seatings for the dinner are scheduled for 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. and tickets are available at Pizza Factory on Roger Street. Drop-ins are also welcome.