Dozens of people in need were treated to lunch and a movie at Paradise Cinemas in Williams Lake as a Christmas treat.
Manager Gord Moon said in other years they sponsored a few families, but this year he and his wife Cindy Kirkpatrick decided to reach a larger segment of the population by doing something different.
“It was our way of giving back to the community,” Moon said.
The menu for lunch included home-made baked macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, doughnuts and hot chocolate, served in the party room next to the lobby where tables and chairs lined the wall.
“I spoke with homeless outreach worker Wayne Lucier and he said that would be a good choice,” Moon said as he served the food to the guests, Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Sitting at the table with her son Lyndin, Meggan Quilt said she was enjoying the food and looking forward to watching The Grinch.
Leah Martin, Housing First program co-ordinator, praised the theatre for hosting the event.
“It’s a wonderful unique experience to offer to the community,” Martin said. “I think it’s the perfect Christmas gift. Going the movies has become a luxury most people cannot afford.”
Lionel Marshall said he really appreciated the gesture.
“This is awesome,” he said as he eyed his plate of food. “I didn’t have to cook, and a movie, and people. I don’t get out that often.”
Moon said he told Lucier and the Cariboo Friendship Society shelter manager to spread the word about the lunch and movie.
“For some of us Christmas is the happiest time of the year, but for some people it is the most difficult,” Lucier said. “It triggers some things for people. For people who don’t have anything, how do they tell that to their children?”
Lucier had one person in his office Wednesday morning from Eagle’s Nest who had to move out because of the water main break in November.
“Right now he is staying with a friend, but for people like him — an old time cowboy — he has lived on his own for many years and he’s not used to staying with people.”
With Christmas approaching, Lucier said Williams Lake is very generous and always surprises him.
“I think there are lots of things happening to make other people’s lives easier. Like the movie event – I think they had over 40 people show up.”
Williams Lake still has a long way to go, but the things that are happening are helping, he added.
“When you look at the cost of rent and food rising and welfare rates staying low, it doesn’t look good. They are making the process so hard for people to get social assistance.”
He estimated around 150 people are looking for affordable housing in the Williams Lake area, but warned that often the numbers don’t include people who are couch surfing.
As for his recommendation that Moon and Kirkpatrick serve hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, Lucier said people in need don’t always get to eat comfort food.
“Gord said next year he will have to triple the amount of hot dogs he makes,” Lucier said.