Kaitlin Brown, 5, and her mom Theresa Newton enjoy a meal and the camaraderie at the Uu a Thluck (Taking Care Of) Community Christmas Dinner at the Alberni Athletic Hall on Dec. 25. (SONJA DRINKWATER/Alberni Valley News)

Uu a Thluck volunteers serve Christmas dinner for 400 in Port Alberni

Biennial community dinner sets record with highest number of people participating

Nearly 400 people enjoyed Christmas dinner on Dec. 25 courtesy of Uu a Thluck (Taking Care Of) Community Christmas Dinner.

The event takes place every second year, and has become bigger every year since its beginning, one of the three organizers, Jeff Cook, said.

“It was an amazing event yesterday,” said Kimmie MacDonald, who along with her sister Valerie Bellwood and Brian Calm make up the rest of the organizing committee.

The team, which included between 45–50 volunteers, fed between 330–350 people “including the 30 meals delivered to the hospital,” MacDonald said.

“Then at the end of the event I delivered all the food left over to the shelter, which would probably be enough for 25–30 more people.”

The Alberni Athletic Hall opened at noon on Christmas Day, after volunteers had set tables with enough places for 408 people the night before. Another team of volunteers had already wrapped donated gifts so everyone who attended the dinner would receive one. There were also numerous door prize draws throughout the afternoon.

Helen Dick opened the afternoon, speaking on behalf of the Tseshaht First Nation, and Al Ross spoke on behalf of Hupacasath First Nation. City of Port Alberni councillor Helen Poon brought greetings from city council. Cook also stood up and asked all the volunteers to come up and receive a round of applause for their generosity of time.

There was also music to accompany the meal, courtesy of Alberni District Secondary School students Austin Kasten, Kayla Heiman and Caiden Meyer.

Organizers are already planning the next Uu a Thluck (Taking Care Of) dinner in 2021.

With files from Sonja Drinkwater, freelancer

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Lyle Williams receives his dinner from Jenny Wallman and next to her Auliss, Christmas Day at the Alberni Athletic Hall. Volunteers served close to 400 meals, including some delivered to West Coast General Hospital and leftovers taken to Port Alberni Shelter Society. (SONJA DRINKWATER/Alberni Valley News)

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