White Rock's Community Christmas Day Dinner is returning to First United Church hall

Community Christmas Day dinner returns

Organizers need to know who'll be attending the annual tradition so rides can be arranged and enough turkey will be carved

Dec. 25 is rapidly approaching –  time for participants to confirm they’ll be coming to White Rock’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at First United Church hall (at the corner of Centre Street and Buena Vista Avenue).

Longtime co-organizer Chip Barrett said all that’s needed is a call to Sources Community Resource Society at 604-542-4357 by this Friday to confirm reservations and, if necessary, the need for a ride.

“That’s just so Lesley (Chef Lesley Maudsley) knows how many to expect for dinner and Bill Wallace can make sure he can line up all his volunteer drivers – he always does a great job for us,” said Barrett.

“Everyone is welcome to share this  community tradition. It’s a wonderful dinner that Lesley puts on – I think there’s around 14 turkeys that go into it and the hall always looks great, thanks to all the volunteers who start decorating the day before.”

The dinner, free and open to anyone who’s on their own on Christmas Day – whatever the circumstances – is a three-decade tradition in White Rock.

It started when the late city gardener George Bryant, together with Barrett and a few like-minded individuals, decided that in a city as rich in resources and community spirit as White Rock, nobody had to feel isolated on Christmas Day.

And that’s really what it’s all about; a chance to get together with friends and strangers and share the warmth and fellowship of the season, as well as sing songs and get a photo with what Barrett assures us is the ‘real’ Santa Claus – passing resemblance to Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg notwithstanding.

The dinner usually hosts more than 200 guests of all ages, plus the more than 60 volunteers who make it all happen, including White Rock Youth Ambassadors.

In addition to what Barrett describes as “an enormous turkey dinner with all the trimmings,” guests receive mince pies, apples and oranges, chocolates, flowers and take-home goodie bags, thanks to the generosity of those who donate to the event each year (and donations are always gratefully accepted).

Pianist and music therapist Christine Dibble will return to play music and accompany a sing-along of favourite Christmas songs.

“The ambassadors get right into that, too,” noted Barrett, who said he’s always pleased to see young people’s eagerness to be involved.

“We have to think of what’s next,” he said, noting that, just as the event endured after the passing of Bryant, there’s every indication it will continue for decades to come.

At the same time, many organizers and volunteers, while still going strong, will eventually have to work out who will succeed them, he added.

“We’ve got to get the next generation involved in it, too,” he said.


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