No one deserves to eat alone—or worse, not eat at all—on Christmas Day. A group of Port Alberni residents agree, so they got together and have revived the community Christmas dinner.
Taking Care Of…Uu-a-thluk Community Dinner is planned for Monday, Dec. 25, from 1–4 p.m. at the Alberni Athletic Hall. Everyone is invited.
Yes, everyone. Dinner spokespeople Jeffrey Cook and Kimmie MacDonald said organizers are anticipating as many as 500 people will show up for this dinner.
“We have a lot of homeless and low income people that are lonely, or with no friends or family in town,” says MacDonald.
The event began two years ago when Brian Calm of The Pizza Factory learned there would be no Christmas dinner on Dec. 25 at the Bread of Life, like there had been in past years. Bread of Life had decided to do its dinner on a different day.
Calm and his legion of volunteers served 200 people at The Pizza Factory two years ago, but there was no dinner last year. Cook approached him last summer about reviving the community Christmas dinner, and Calm said if someone else would take the lead, he would support it wholeheartedly. So Cook, MacDonald and Val Bellwood took it on.
From there, it snowballed. Calm and his staff will cook the turkeys, potatoes and vegetables with assistance from staff at Little Valley Deli and Bucksnorts Bar and Grill. The Athletic Hall Association donated the hall, and Save-On-Foods donated $1,500 in food at reduced rates. Citizens are volunteering, other businesses have come forward with donations of all kinds, and volunteers have come forward willing to help out.
“It’s taken on a life of its own,” Cook said.
“Meals on Wheels will deliver hot meals to fire, ambulance, police and hospital workers,” Cook said.
There is no registration required to come to dinner: just show up.
A wrapping party was held on Tuesday, to make sure all the gifts were wrapped; they’re trying to have a gift for everyone who attends.
A Christmas tree will be set up in the hall and Cook and MacDonald are asking people coming for dinner to bring an ornament or a card to hang on the tree. “They don’t have to be store-bought,” Cook said. “That can be their contribution to dinner.”
Cook and MacDonald are still looking for some entertainment for the dinner. Donations are also still being accepted. Updates for the event are being made on social media, but for more information, e-mail Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org. MacDonald can be reached at email@example.com.