An­nual col­lett christ­mas din­ner a go on dec. 25

The Standard (Elliot Lake) - - NEWS - By KEVIN MCSHEFFREY Of The Stan­dard

For the 26th year, a free Christ­mas din­ner with all the trim­mings will be served on De­cem­ber 25, at the Collins Hall on Hill­side Drive, in El­liot Lake from 3 un­til 6:30 p.m.

This event was orig­i­nally or­ga­nized by Cana­dian artist, Richard Bergham­mer for those who were alone on Christ­mas Day. He had guests for Christ­mas din­ner in his home.

He had orig­i­nally started hold­ing the Christ­mas din­ner while liv­ing in south­ern On­tario. He took over the tra­di­tion of host­ing the Christ­mas din­ner from his par­ents John and Emily Bergham­mer. He re­called his par­ents had served up a Christ­mas din­ner to who­ever needed it when he was a lit­tle boy grow­ing up in north­ern Saskatchewan.

In 2003, af­ter Bergham­mer was too ill to host the Christ­mas din­ner, Al and Penny Col­lett took over the pro­ject with the help of vol­un­teers. They con­tin­ued to hold this din­ner at the Angli­can Church hall ev­ery year un­til 2013.

The Christ­mas din­ner was can­celled in 2014 be­cause Al Col­lett was too ill to host it, and there was no time for oth­ers to take it over that year.

Sadly, Al Col­lett, who was a city coun­cil­lor and deputy mayor and served our com­mu­nity for many years, died in July of 2015.

In Col­lett’s hon­our, a group of in­di­vid­u­als took over host­ing the Christ­mas din­ner. Last year, over 350 meals were served and more than 50 vol­un­teers par­tic­i­pated.

Roland Aube, a mem­ber of that group, says the Christ­mas din­ner is free for ev­ery­one. Many are alone at Christ­mas and would like to be in the com­pany of oth­ers at that time of year.

“It’s not just for peo­ple who are in need. It’s also for peo­ple who want to share some com­mu­nity spirit.”

Aube says he has been prac­tic­ing law in El­liot Lake for 40 years.

“I’ve been lucky. This com­mu­nity’s been good to me. I’ve had a pretty good life here, and this is the one thing I can do to bring peo­ple to­gether and make them feel good.”

“Why do we do this? Be­cause peo­ple need it.”

And Aube is not alone, there are other mem­bers of the group. in ad­di­tion, the city has do­nated the use of the Collins Hall for this event. As in the past, com­mu­nity mem­bers and busi­nesses have been very gen­er­ous in their sup­port and con­tri­bu­tions to make this event pos­si­ble and re­main free.

Be­cause of in­creased de­mand, there will be two sit­tings, one at 3 p.m. and one at 5 p.m. Ev­ery­one will be ac­com­mo­dated. A ticket is re­quired to al­low the or­ga­niz­ers to bet­ter plan the event. Tick­ets are free of course and will be made avail­able at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing Alpine Flow­ers in the Paris Plaza, The Sal­va­tion Army Thrift Shop and Roland Aube Law Of­fice in the Up­per Plaza. Groups of eight or more are in­vited to re­serve a ta­ble when pick­ing up tick­ets.

Trans­porta­tion will be avail­able to and from the Collins Hall for those who can­not drive them­selves. Din­ner may be de­liv­ered to shut-ins. De­liv­er­ies will be­gin around 4 p.m. Call ahead 705849-1294 for de­liv­er­ies and pick up or for more in­for­ma­tion.

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