Monday, April 21, 2014

Christmas dinner needs help

While they’ve got plenty of food now, organizers of the community Christmas dinner are looking for volunteers for the 26th-annual event.
“We certainly could use more,” said June Caul, who is in charge of volunteers for the dinner, which will take place Christmas Day from noon-2 p.m. at Knox United Church here.

“We don’t really have a lot of volunteers yet,” she noted.
Caul really needs volunteers for serving food.
“I’ve got four I can use for serving right now,” she remarked. “But when you consider we’ve got turkey, stuffing, vegetables, potatoes, cranberries, pickles, salad—we need somebody to do every single one of those food items.
“So I certainly need more servers.”
Caul also needs people to bus tables—to put out place settings, then clear them away and replace them after people are done dining.
“Anybody who wants to come early in the morning and peel potatoes, that would be great,” added Caul, noting kitchen staff to prepare the food are in place.
“The ‘Meals on Wheels’ [deliveries] usually take care of themselves,” said Caul.
“But we haven’t even had a lot of people call about ‘Meals on Wheels’ yet, so I am wondering if they’re waiting until the last minute.”
“Meals on Wheels” are delivered starting around 11:30 a.m. on Christmas Day.
“Another thing we need help with is clean-up at the end of the afternoon,” said Caul. “I haven’t got anybody who’s said they can do that.
“I’ve got one or two who’ve said they’ll do whatever we need them to do, but you never know whether they can stay or not.”
Ideally, Caul would like to have enough volunteers so they could work in short shifts (only an hour or so) and not the whole afternoon.
As always, high school students are urged to lend a hand to put towards the volunteer hours they need in order to graduate.
Those interested in volunteering can call Caul at 274-2209.
Those who want a Christmas “Meals on Wheels” delivered to them also can call Caul. They can call right up until Christmas Eve to order a meal delivered to their door.
Meanwhile, the dinner got a major boost from the OPP’s annual “Stuff-A-Cruiser” campaign this past Saturday and has all the food they’ll need for the Christmas dinner.
“All we didn’t get was cranberries, isn’t that weird?” said Karen Mitchell, lead organizer of the Christmas dinner.
“Then, ETFO (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario) brought us in cranberries this morning ... I am ready to go!” added Mitchell.
As in past years, the dinner has been supported by local residents, groups, and businesses in different ways.
To name just a few examples, Safeway has donated cake, and will cook the turkeys for the dinner, while the CN station donated 96 boxes of stuffing this year.
Lowey’s Greenhouse each year donates 300 poinsettias so that each dinner guest gets to take one home. Each person who has a “Meals on Wheels” delivered also gets one.
And local Girl Guides and Brownies will make treats to be delivered along with “Meals on Wheels” trays.
Absolutely everyone is invited to attend the Christmas dinner, which features a meal consisting of turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, pickles, buns, and dessert.
“We try to [prepare for] 300 people. That way if we don’t have that many, we can give it to the soup kitchen and to those that help us, the Special Olympics team, stuff like that,” said Mitchell. “It’s better to have too much than not enough.”
The community Christmas dinner is free and is for everybody—whether people who might not have family to share the holiday with or those who simply want to socialize with fellow citizens on a very special occasion.
There will be a ramp at the church so those with wheelchairs will be able to get into the hall there.
Diane Maxey and some of the Fort Frances Choraliers also will be singing starting at 1 p.m.
Last year, about 200 people attended while 65 “Meals on Wheels” were delivered.

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