Hundreds dine at annual Community Christmas Dinner

Hundreds dine at annual Community Christmas Dinner

Ernan, 6, enjoys turkey and mashed potatoes at the 14th annual Community Christmas Dinner on Sunday.

By Vanessa Broadbent

Turkey, stuffing, potatoes – there’s really not much better than a home-cooked Christmas dinner.

However, not everyone has a family dinner to go to, but the annual community Christmas dinner exists to change that.

The dinner is organized by the Oliver Alliance Church, with support from the community including Parks and Recreation, No Frills, Buy Low Foods, Big Al’s Bakery, Azorean Catering and a whole lot of volunteers.

Jeremy Cook and Jason Fernandes from Oliver Alliance Church.

“It’s just to welcome anyone that can’t have a Christmas dinner of their own or is going to be alone through Christmas. We just want to give somebody a chance to have a Christmas meal,” said Shiela Lange, the coordinator of the dinner and administrator at the Alliance Church.

Now in its 14th year, the event sees around 350 people fed, and then left over food is packed up and given to attendees as well.

From left: Nolan, 8, Makayla, 10, and Charmaine Casorso distribute gifts to attendees.

“People stay and take an extra meal home. We give food away until it runs out.”

Oliver resident Gerry has been attending the dinner since its start, and enjoys the welcoming spirit.

“It gives the people a chance to talk to other people they haven’t seen for a while,” he said “There isn’t anybody in here I don’t know.”

That welcoming spirit is exactly what Lang and her team of volunteers hope for.

“Our goal is to pretend this is our home and these are guests in our home. That’s the atmosphere we try to produce,” she said.

“I have a nice big family dinner, but a lot of these people don’t have that and this is their family Christmas dinner.”