Ken and Erin Fraser, with their children Josiah, 9, Eilidh, 7, Lachlan, 5, Rowan, 2, and Miriam, 3 months, have taken on the task of hosting the Home for Christmas community dinner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on the Dec. 25. (Leah Blain photo)

Ken and Erin Fraser, with their children Josiah, 9, Eilidh, 7, Lachlan, 5, Rowan, 2, and Miriam, 3 months, have taken on the task of hosting the Home for Christmas community dinner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on the Dec. 25. (Leah Blain photo)

Salmon Arm family cooking up Christmas community dinner

Erin and Ken Fraser step up to challenge of co-ordinating annual free event

Leah Blain

Contributor

On Christmas morning the Fraser family won’t have much time to sit around the tree opening presents.

Along with many volunteers, they’re going to be at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church hall cooking turkeys and hams with all the trimmings to give cheer to the Salmon Arm community.

This event, called ‘Home For Christmas,’ is filling the gap left by the former ‘Friends at Christmas’ meal.

“We were informed recently the ‘Friends at Christmas’ event had been cancelled indefinitely, or at least until a new chairman could be found,” said Ken.

Ken and Erin Fraser decided they couldn’t let this event of 17 years go by the wayside.

“The former co-ordinator suggested we start afresh under a new name, and host the dinner in our home parish, so that’s what we’re doing,” said Ken. “The new ‘Home for Christmas’ event will be familiar, with Christmas carollers, musicians, crafts for kids and a huge feast.”

Erin and the children spent a day putting up posters around town and the tickets are already moving. Everyone is welcome but there are only 200 tickets, and these are available at the Church’s Thrift Store and Second Harvest.

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“There won’t be any at the door so people should try to get them in advance. If people show up to the dinner without a ticket, we might have room, but no guarantees,” said Erin. “I would hate to turn people away.”

While co-ordinating volunteers and cooking a feast for 200 people is a lot of work, they found getting all the proper certification to be particularly challenging.

“We’ll soon have enough certifications to open a hospital on the moon,” joked Ken. “Also, time is a challenge. I’m a carpenter with a small-scale construction company and my wife is a homemaker, and we have five children, so it’s a bit tricky trying to balance family, church and construction with this dinner event. But we’re more blessed than stressed. Everyone has been helping us so much, nothing so far has felt like a burden.”

The cost of the event is about $3,000. This includes: advertising, tickets and programs, dinner, beverages, desserts, decor, permit/food certification and insurance.

“Currently it’s coming out of our personal savings,” said Ken.

Anyone wanting to help can donate through SASCU (Home for Christmas account) or send a cheque to PO Box 221, Salmon Arm, V1E 4N3 and mark it ‘Home for Christmas.’ Any money left over will go towards next year’s event.

Erin said Christmas has always been her favourite time of year, and she is hoping this year will be extra special for the whole family.

“Christmas can be overwhelming but this dinner is meant to help us rise above the chaos and encourage a spirit of gratitude,” said Erin. “I also really want my kids to wake up on Christmas morning excited to serve at the dinner, instead of being excited only about the gifts under the tree.”

Ken made it clear the event is open to everyone – “everyone is welcome Home for Christmas.”

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