Volunteers were in abundance, as was the food.
This year’s turkey-with-all-the-trimmings, to-go Christmas dinners put on by Salmon Arm’s three Rotary clubs outnumbered the initial recipients.
Enough food was prepared for 600 meals, so 500 dinners were packaged and ready to go on Dec. 25, explained organizer Winston Lee-Hai. Similar to last year’s set-up made necessary by the pandemic, the Rotary clubs joined forces with the First United and Broadview Evangelical Free churches to provide Christmas dinners bagged in special containers. The Rotary clubs shared the cost.
Prior to the pandemic and its protocols, Rotary and the churches put on a full sit-down dinner, so lots of volunteers were needed. This year, not so many.
“We had to actually cut off the volunteers,” Lee-Hai said. “With just Rotarians alone from the three clubs, we had more than enough.”
So there was just the packaging of the meals and getting them ready for pick-up and delivery. He expressed his gratitude to everyone who offered to help.
”Everybody was very giving of their time. It’s a very generous community once we reach out and let them know something is happening. That’s been my experience anyway.”
The turkeys were cooked at the Sorrento Centre, and then the dinners were packaged and stored in the commercial kitchens of the two churches.
Tickets for the free dinners had been handed out to a number of agencies and organizations, to be given to people who would appreciate receiving them. Volunteer drivers delivered meals to those who weren’t able to come and get their dinner-to-go.
When the dinner pick-up time came to an end, only 400 meals had been distributed.
“It was really cold, so it affected traffic flow,” said Lee-Hai.
But no food was wasted.
Lee-Hai said the Second Harvest Food Bank was happy to take 100 packaged meals and put them in their freezers to be given out to people who go there. And the unpackaged food was given to the Food with Friends free lunch program that provides an outdoor lunch on Tuesdays and Fridays in the parking area behind the Crossroads Free Methodist Church.
“It went really well but it was cold, really cold,” Lee-Hai said. “We will do it again but we don’t know what 2022 is going to bring. We will keep working on it. Folks in our community need it.”
He offered his thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.
“Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make this year’s Christmas Day Community Dinner a great success, and to all of Rotary’s partners – First United Church, Broadview E-Free Church, Sorrento Centre, Jeanne’s Printing, and Don – Askew’s Foods downtown.”
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