Years of Christ­mas din­ners Ev­ery­one is wel­come at this ta­ble

CHB Mail - - NEWS -

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.

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