Keen to spread Christ­mas cheer

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By TERESA HAT­TAN

See­ing the joy spread over an el­derly per­son’s face, or the twin­kle in the eye of a young­ster is what makes Mata­mata’s Com­mu­nity Christ­mas lunch spe­cial.

Giv­ing up their own Christ­mas day to put on a lunch for the com­mu­nity isn’t a chore, but a buzz for those who help or­gan­ise the spe­cial event.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers come from ‘‘all walks of life’’ to help out with prepa­ra­tions for the day.

Cathy Black­lock moved to Mata­mata from Wellington two years ago and this year will be her sec­ond Christ­mas lunch.

‘‘ I’m a widow and have two grown up sons who don’t live in town and I thought I wanted to get in­volved in some­thing, to be part of the com­mu­nity.

‘‘ My hus­band and I al­ways meant to do it down in Wellington but we never got around to it. It’s bril­liant, I love do­ing it.’’

And the best part about be­ing in­volved?

‘‘Every­body is so happy. You can’t help but get a buzz from it, just be­ing there.’’

Black­lock said she doesn’t mind giv­ing up her own Christ­mas day for her com­mu­nity.

She said in the lead up to last year’s event, com­mit­tee mem­bers were a lit­tle scared as she’d had a heart at­tack a month prior but she said the lunch even pro­vided her with mo­ti­va­tion to get well. ‘‘It was a good thing to be in­volved in.’’

Vol­un­teer­ing

for

the

fes­tive lunch can in­volve lots of prepa­ra­tion in­clud­ing set­ting up the ta­bles, dish­ing up food, clear­ing up after. Plan­ning for the day be­gins in Septem­ber by a group of eight to 10 com­mit­tee mem­bers. Plenty more helpers sim­ply give up their time on the day.

Mary and Ivan Lasenby got in­volved with the lunch through their church and have helped for two or three years.

Mary said a high­light of be­ing in­volved was wit­ness­ing peo­ple’s joy of be­ing there and see­ing how much they en­joy it when they ar­rive.

It was also the gen­eros­ity of the peo­ple of Mata­mata who do­nate trans­port, funds and food for the day. ‘‘They just come to­gether, there are very gen­er­ous peo­ple,’’ she said.

Ivan said see­ing this hap­pen was ‘‘un­real’’. ‘‘It just blows you away’’. The group said the town’s ser­vice clubs also ‘‘come to the party’’ and help out tremen­dously.

‘‘ On the day it’s just a real buzz,’’ Mary said.

‘‘I think although you’re giv­ing, you get more in re­turn,’’ she said.

Mary felt the lunch told the real story of Christ­mas.

‘‘It’s the whole love thing, which is what Christ­mas is about. Peo­ple who don’t know each other get to know each other and sit to­gether and en­joy company.’’

The trio stress the lunch isn’t just for those who aren’t able to hold their own Christ­mas lunch. It is also for those who are on their own and even fam­i­lies.

There are no short­age of helpers on the day. Many are al­ready phon­ing in to see what they can do to help this year. Trans­port, both col­lec­tion and drop off, can also be pro­vided for those who need it.

- For book­ings and in­for­ma­tion, phone Mary on 888 5100.

Photo: TERESA HAT­TAN

CHRIST­MAS LUNCH: Com­mu­nity Christ­mas lunch com­mit­tee vol­un­teers, from left, Mary and Ivan Lasenby and Cathy Black­lock, are in prepa­ra­tion mode for this year’s big day.

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