Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star Maria Durfeld

Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star Maria Durfeld

Coming together for Christmas

Christmas is a time to reaffirm bonds among friends and family or create new memories.

Christmas is a time to reaffirm bonds among friends and family or create new memories. But for many, the holidays can be the loneliest time of the year.

That’s why planning is underway for the third annual Together for Christmas event, which will include entertainment, crafts and dinner Dec. 25.

“We are aiming for those who are alone or feel alone,” said Ron Birch, one of the organizers.

Everyone is invited no matter their circumstances — an individual with no family nearby, seniors, a single parent with children or entire families who just want to embrace the spirit of Christmas.

“We’re taking posters to the hotels because somebody here to work may get stuck in town,” said Joe Dorval, an organizer.

“A lot of people shun Christmas because it’s not been a happy time for them but we’ve turned it into a happy time.”

Also invited are those who struggle to put food on the table.

“We are breaking barriers. It’s mission clients, it’s seniors, it’s everybody,” said Lisa Froom, Upper Room Mission manager, of those welcome at the traditional Christmas feast.

Meals can be provided to those who are physically unable to attend the event and transportation to Together for Christmas will be available.

To make arrangements, call Birch at 250-545-0383 or Dorval at 250-503-1945.

About 400 people are expected to attend the dinner, and that means volunteers are required to do everything from cooking and serving to security, set-up and parking.

“We want the volunteers to feel like they’ve contributed and there is plenty of room for that,” said Froom.

And it won’t just be non-stop work for those who lend a hand.

“We also want the people who volunteer to sit down, eat and share in the festivities too,” said Birch.

There are volunteer shifts for Dec. 23, 24, 25 and 27.

Specific jobs will be given to volunteers and anyone wanting to volunteer can call 250-545-6726 or e-mail

Support for the event has come from throughout the community, including churches, physicians and teachers.

Together for Christmas takes place Dec. 25 at St. James Parish Hall (in St. James School), with doors opening at 3 p.m. and dinner at 4 p.m.

Dorval insists there are no strangers on Christmas Day and everyone at the table is considered family.

“They know someone cares. You sit down and we love you,” he said.