The 21st Annual Yuletide Dinner is coming up at the Sacred Heart Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 4 to 7 p.m.
The dinner is provided free to people and families who find themselves lean on funds or short on company during the holidays.
The dinner is held in partnership with the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre, Sacred Heart Parish and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul and made possible with the help of volunteers and donations from the community.
“There is a real need in our community,” said the CDC’s Vanessa Riplinger and event co-ordinator. “Last year we served over 600 dinners. It is important for families to be able to celebrate Christmas together.”
Riplinger said Brice O’Neill from New World Coffee and Tea House is taking charge of purchasing and cooking the turkey dinner with help from volunteers and cooks at Sacred Heart Church.
Several church groups will be helping with the desserts for the dinner, and numerous volunteers help with set up, serving, clean up, and everything in between, she adds.
Children and teens will once again be able to visit Santa and receive a stocking filled with goodies and small gifts. There will be live music again, as local choirs and musicians donate their time and talent.
Karen Day has graciously organized the making of the stockings and always makes sure we have enough to fill for the children and teens. Local businesses, community organizations and individuals donate items for filling the stockings.
The general public helps to put on the Yuletide Dinner with their cash donations of $11 to sponsor an individual meal, or $44 to sponsor a family of four.
The Child Development Centre also provides free transportation to and from the dinner for those in need within the city limits. If you need a ride you can call the CDC at 250-392-4481.
“It is an event the community loves,” said 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.”
If you have any questions, if you require transportation, or if you would like to donate, please call the Child Development Centre at 250-392-4481.