Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre executive director Vanessa Riplinger is excited to see the 25th annual Yuletide Dinner return as an in-person event.
During the COVID-19 pandemic turkey dinners were available for pick-up but on Wednesday, Dec. 7 things will return to normal with a sit-down meal served at the Sacred Heart Catholic School hall.
“We are collaborating with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul again and lots of people have signed up to help this year so that’s great,” Riplinger said.
The dinner will go from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and anyone wanting to sponsor, dinner for four people is $50.
“There are a lot of people experiencing hardships in our community this year and we do this so they can have some Christmas time with their families.”
A long-standing tradition, the Yuletide Dinner began when a women’s group got together and served a meal at a downtown hotel. The next year the CDC took it over and it was moved to the Fraser’s Inn then the Overlander.
Collaborating with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is more recent and Riplinger praised Lynn Paterson of the society for her efforts, as well as all the businesses and support that comes from the community.
Coming up as well is the Christmas Wish Breakfast on Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Boston Pizza.
Organized by the CDC as well, the event sees people bring a new unwrapped toy or a monetary donation and enjoy breakfast.
Riplinger said the idea for the breakfast was inspired 23 years ago by a similar event at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver.
“We were cleaning up at the Yuletide Dinner at the Overlander and I was talking with the owner at the time, Lindsey Gasparini and he said ‘let’s do it this year,’” she recalled. “We were all exhausted but looked at each other and said ‘OK’ and never looked back.”
She also praised Jason Ouimet, owner of Boston Pizza, his chef Karen Malley and the staff who now host and volunteer to work at the breakfast. Malley will also be running the kitchen for the Yuletide Dinner.
In 2021, 1,000 gifts went out from the CDC through various organizations to families in need.
“I am hearing there are more children who will need gifts this year.”
With the cash donations, staff from the CDC go toy shopping right after the breakfast, she added.
“At the CDC we try to do things locally and support businesses as best we can. Our businesses are amazing and supportive of our community.”