A year-round tradition of helping continued with a festive flare at Star of the Sea Hall in White Rock’s Five Corners Tuesday, as doors opened on the 13th annual King’s Banquet Soup Kitchen Christmas dinner.
More than a dozen volunteers, many in holiday hats, prepared and served food and holiday cheer to 100-plus appreciative diners.
“It went very, very well,” Carolyn Wharton, leader of the Star of the Sea outreach ministry that organizes the weekly dinners, Helpers of St. Anne, said Wednesday. “We are so pleased to be able to do this for the 13th year.”
In addition to a feast of stuffed turkey roast, vegetables, dessert and more, the occasion included entertainment by an ensemble of singers, camaraderie and an opportunity for guests to select a gift from a table of cosy handmade toques and scarves, as well as sundry hygiene items.
Wharton said many of those who enjoyed the fare were familiar faces – including one man who is only seen at the Christmas dinner. But she noted that attendance was down from previous years, when as many as 140 people have arrived from as far away as New Westminster to partake in the meal. The drop, she said, can be traced to May’s fire in the Five Corners district.
The early-morning blaze caused extensive damage to the adjacent Ocean Ridge condominium complex, and forced a nearly two-month hiatus on the soup kitchen’s weekly dinners, due to water damage at the hall.
While attendance had grown to about 135 people before the fire, Wharton said it has fluctuated between 85 and 100 in the months since.
“After the fire, it took quite a while before people got the word we were back and open again,” she said. “There were some that were coming before that never did come back.”
The next dilemma facing the soup kitchen is where it will be held following the anticipated sale of the parish property.
In July, church officials confirmed that plans are in the works to dispose of the White Rock site – as well as that of the Holy Cross Church in Crescent Beach – to facilitate the expansion of the Good Shepherd complex in South Surrey.
Wharton said at the Christmas dinner that while the timeline for the project is still unclear, the search for short-term space to host the soup kitchen during construction will be a focus in the new year.
“We don’t know when anything’s going to start, because the property hasn’t been sold yet,” she said. “We just know… for the short-term, we will be out of a home.”
As Wharton took in the scene of the Christmas dinner Tuesday, she could imagine the impact that loss of the soup kitchen would have.
“We sure don’t want to have to take a hiatus from this for a year-and-a-half,” she said. “That would be dreadful.”
The King’s Banquet dinners resume Jan. 10. Doors open at 3:45 p.m. at 15262 Pacific Ave.; dinner will be served from 4-6 p.m.