Everyone is family at Christmas.
Vernon’s sixth annual Together for Christmas dinner takes place Dec. 25 for individuals or families who do not want to be alone during the festive season.
“We’ve been growing by an average of 20 per cent every year,” said Ron Birch, who helped found the celebration with Joe Dorval.
“Word is spreading about the event and we’re getting more people all of the time. Their family may be in Toronto or Calgary and to get there is expensive and the weather doesn’t always co-operate.”
About 375 people were served last year and it’s anticipated that could climb to 425 this year.
“Christmas is about being together,” said Angela Vecqueray, who helps organize the kitchen.
And the kitchen will be a busy place as at least 32 turkeys will be cooked and 150 pounds of potatoes will be mashed.
But Together for Christmas goes beyond just a meal.
There will be entertainment, crafts and a visit from Santa Claus.
“We had about 20 to 30 children last year, mostly toddlers,” said Birch.
Donations of jackets, boots, blankets and other warm items are also being sought to distribute among dinner guests in need.
“If we don’t give it to someone there, the items will go to local agencies to distribute,” said Birch.
The dinner will be held at the St. James Parish Hall (St. James School), with doors opening at 2:30 p.m. and the meal at 4 p.m.
Anyone needing a ride to the dinner or wanting a meal delivered to them can call Jae at 250-308-9600.
Planning for the event is well underway but some community assistance is still needed.
Anyone interested in volunteering or providing entertainment can call Gwen at 250-550-9453.
Organizers hope for a large turnout.
“We are being really greedy. We get a lot of thank you’s but they impact us more so,” said Birch of spending time with local residents.
“This is our community and it’s a way to give back. We don’t care if you have $1 million or $1, everyone is welcome.”
For kitchen organizer Chris Lalonde, the dinner is something he looks forward to all year long.
“It’s all about the true meaning of Christmas,” he said.