The 19th annual Yuletide Dinner for people who find themselves lean on funds or short on company during the holidays is coming up at the Sacred Heart Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 14.
The dinner is jointly sponsored by the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre and Sacred Heart’s St. Vincent De Paul Society with the help of volunteers and donations from the greater community.
“There is a real need in our community,” says the CDC’s Vanessa Riplinger and event co-ordinator.
“It is important for families to be able to celebrate Christmas together.”
Riplinger says Brice O’Neill from the New World Coffee and Tea House is taking charge of purchasing and cooking the turkey dinner with help from Darla Robson and the volunteer cooks at Sacred Heart Church.
Several church groups will be making the desserts for the event, and numerous volunteers help with serving, she adds.
Santa Claus will be there giving out stockings for the children filled with goodies and small gifts. Several groups will be providing live music.
She says Karen Day is making the stockings this year and local businesses, community organizations and individuals donate items for the stockings.
The general public helps to put on the Yuletide Dinner with their cash donations of $11 to sponsor an individual or $44 to sponsor a family.
Last year she said that about 500 people attended the Yuletide Dinner. For those who need transportation the CDC provides rides to and from the dinner, within city limits.
People who need a ride can call the CDC at 250-392-4481.
This will be the second year that the Yuletide Dinner will be held at Sacred Heart Hall, 455 Pigeon Street.
It was originally started by chef Walter Brunner and a group of business women who held the event in the banquet room at the Williams Inn.
From there it moved to the Fraser Inn for a few years, and then found a long-term home at the Overlander Convention Centre where staff cooked the meals and volunteers helped with the serving, collecting donations and gifts for the children.
Last year the event was moved to the Sacred Heart Church Hall with the idea of involving more of the community and making it easier for people who live downtown to walk to the dinner, Riplinger says.
“It is an event the community loves,” says Riplinger, recounting some of the special ways in which the Yuletide Dinner has brought families together over the years.
In some cases she says the dinner has allowed extended families from different circumstances to share a Christmas meal together which they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Some years, she says people new to the community or who happened to be alone during the holiday season came to the dinner and enjoyed themselves so much that they made donations or donated a gift for a child.
Working at the CDC she notes that she often sees the financial stress that having a child with special needs places on a family with the extra cost of travel for assessment and treatment with specialists in larger communities.
“There are some really special stories that happen around the Yuletide Dinner,” Riplinger says. “It’s always an amazing event.”
People who have any questions, require transportation, or who would like to donate, are asked to call the Child Development Centre at 250-392-4481.