To Strat­ford with Love is back

To Strat­ford with Love tick­ets on sale as of Mon­day while vol­un­teers are still needed


It’s been over a month since the ques­tions started fil­ter­ing in.

When will tick­ets be avail­able for the an­nual To Strat­ford with Love ban­quet?

“They start ask­ing us for them like the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber,” said The Lo­cal Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tre ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor De­bra Swan. “They’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.”

The wait is fi­nally over as the ticket win­dow opened Mon­day. In ad­di­tion to The Lo­cal, they’re avail­able at city hall, Made­lyn’s Diner, Strat­ford House of Bless­ing and the Sal­va­tion Army. There is no cost or vet­ting process for the Christ­mas din­ner pro­vided by Sim­ple Dreams.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what your fi­nan­cial sta­tus is. We have peo­ple com­ing just be­cause they’re by them­selves – they don’t have fam­ily here,” said Ruth Knei­der, who co­founded the lo­cal char­ity with husband Richard. “We en­cour­age peo­ple to come just to sit and min­gle.”

The event, Dec. 16 at the Strat­ford Ro­tary Com­plex, be­gins at 5:30 p.m. This is year 29 for To Strat­ford with Love.

“We started off with about 250 peo­ple and now we’re at a thou­sand,” Richard Knei­der said. “I don’t know if we can go any big­ger at this par­tic­u­lar point, only be­cause the Ro­tary com­plex, that’s maxed out for ta­bles and chairs.”

The food list is rather stag­ger­ing: 700 pounds of beef, 180 pounds of veg­eta­bles, 125 pounds of coleslaw, 850 pota­toes, 1,200 din­ner rolls, 80 litres of gravy, and at least 175 pies, al­though that fi­nal num­ber may grow larger.

“We never say no to pie,” Richard Knei­der said.

Most of the food is do­nated by lo­cal res­i­dents and busi­nesses, while Sim­ple Dreams also pur­chases some of it.

“We would not be able to do this with­out the sup­port of the com­mu­nity,” Richard Knei­der said.

The event is usu­ally hosted with the help of about 200 vol­un­teers. Gen­er­ally when some­one of­fers to pitch in, they re­turn the next year.

“Some get of­fended that they don’t get back on the list,” Ruth Knei­der said, draw­ing a chuckle from her husband.

In ad­di­tion to servers – they’ve al­ready re­cruited about half of the goal of 130 – there are var­i­ous jobs to fill.

“Lots of room still for vol­un­teers,” Ruth Knei­der said.

Vol­un­teers can sign up through Sim­ple Dreams’ Face­book page, by email at tostrat­ford­, or by call­ing their daugh­ter, Katey, at 519-275-1240.

The din­ner will also fea­ture en­ter­tain­ment by The Up­side of Maybe.

Mean­while, Sim­ple Dreams was the re­cip­i­ent of the ap­prox­i­mately 600 stuffed an­i­mals thrown on the

ice dur­ing the Strat­ford War­riors’ Teddy Bear Toss game on Nov. 3. Some will be de­liv­ered to the Strat­ford Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal’s special care nurs­ery, with the re­main­ing given to fam­i­lies at­tend­ing the din­ner.

“If peo­ple want one we’ll get them for them,” Ruth Knei­der said. tbridge@post­


The Lo­cal Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tre ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor De­bra Swan, left, and Sim­ple Dreams co-founders Richard and Ruth Knei­der are seen at The Lo­cal on Mon­day. Tick­ets are now avail­able for Sim­ple Dreams’ To Strat­ford with Love ban­quet.

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