White Rock’s Christmas Day dinner at First United Church has become a much-beloved annual tradition

Volunteers sought for Christmas Day dinner

Annual event planned again for White Rock's First United Church

It’s a community tradition that has persisted and grown for more than three decades. And it’s a great opportunity for those who want a rewarding volunteer job on Christmas Day.

At its heart is a simple assumption – that the holiday isn’t always the way it’s depicted in the movies and illustrations. It isn’t always about large families gathering together around a storybook-perfect hearth and home and Christmas tree.

The realities are that families are often grown and gone, or separated; that the traditional significance of Christmas Day has become otherwise altered by circumstances; that there are people who, while not  may be alone or lonely at a time when some of us seem almost weighed down by family and social commitments.

White Rock’s Christmas Day Dinner, at First United Church, also hinges on another reality – that there are many who find meaning in sharing such an all-encompassing experience of community, and for whom Christmas would not be the same without volunteering their time to make sure the tradition continues.

That’s why each year the ad hoc organizing committee issues an appeal for community helpers through Sources Volunteer Services. And each year, there’s a deadline – volunteers for this year’s dinner must all be registered by Dec. 6.

Some 60 volunteers are necessary to prepare the meal, decorate the hall, and drive participants, as well as greet and serve the 200 or so who usually show up for the turkey feast, the informal retelling of the scriptural story, the singalong and the visit from Santa (who usually bears a slight resemblance to White Rock South Surrey MLA Gordon Hogg).

White Rock Youth Ambassadors always do their part in welcoming guests, but there’s also a need for parking attendants, people capable of doing the ‘heavy-lifting’ jobs, as well as the all-important clean-up crew – as well as volunteers to supervise the volunteers.

It’s not all a matter of working on Christmas Day, either. On Christmas Eve the committee needs potato peelers and choppers, carrot peelers and choppers, and people to slice the onions, celery and bread for the turkey stuffing and fill condiment bowls.

The day before, organizers also need as many volunteers as possible – particularly younger men – to set up tables and chairs.

Decorators are also required, as well as people to set tables, sign cards and fill gift bags.

For Christmas Day, chef Leslie Maudsley needs a crew of helpers to set out condiments and beverages, mash potatoes, fill serving trays, do early dish and pot and pan cleaning, and dish out food on plates.

Some six people will be needed just to scrape plates, rinse dishes, load and empty the dishwasher, while some 25 food and beverage servers will be required – and as many as possible to assist guests as they leave and clean up the hall.

To volunteer, or for more information, call 604-542-4357.

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