Years of Christmas dinners Everyone is welcome at this table
It has been 12 years since the first annual community Christmas dinner at St Andrew’s Hall in Waipukurau.
In that time organiser Gael Riddiford has seen the number of people attending climb from 20 to 40 and then up to 80 and 90.
“I wondered what I had done when attendance kept going up
. . . because the hall can only seat 100 people in comfort. But then numbers stabilised. Last year was a big one with 80 people.”
Many of those who come to the Christmas Dinner have become regulars, with quite a few rolling up their sleeves and helping in the kitchen as a way of giving back Gael says.
“Originally we had volunteers. We organised people to help in the kitchen and with the cleanup. But it grew organically. Now people just turn up and pitch in. They want to help.”
Feeding the diners has never been a problem either. All food is donated or bought with donated funds.
“There’s always been enough. I have ever had to ask for help to feed people,” Gael says.
The Christmas dinner is open to anyone who is at a loose end on Christmas Day. While many older residents attend, Gael says there are usually families and people who have recently moved to CHB and don’t know anyone.
“In past years we’ve had fruit pickers come along. They would do an item as part of the entertainment. There was also a pianist who used to play, but she’s moved so there’s an opening there for a piano player should anyone want to take us up on it.”
Not that entertainment is needed once everyone gets to know one another and starts chatting, Gael says.
Some of Gael’s regulars have already booked but there are still plenty to go around.
“We start at at 1pm on Christmas Day and share a twocourse meal. Over the years we have had singles, couples and families join us. Every year is different depending on who comes.
“If you would like to contribute food or money, or help before, during or after — or just turn up and enjoy — we would love to hear from you,” Gael says. “If you need to transport or need to bring a care person — just give us a ring. Anyone wanting company on Christmas day is welcome.”
■ Community Christmas Dinner When: 1pm Christmas day Where: St Andrew’s Hall Waipukurau, for anyone wanting company on Christmas Day. Phone Gael 022 367 0952.
Community Christmas dinner is being held again at St Andrews Hall in Waipukurau this year.