HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L.
The Salvation Army in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was filled to the rafters on Dec. 1 when hundreds of people were served a delicious home-cooked turkey dinner to kick off the Christmas season.
Captain Brent Haas said by the time the last meal was served at the fifth annual Community Christmas Dinner, over 200 people had enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
“We were set up for about 120-130 (people) and we ended going over the 200 mark,” Hass said. “We even set up tables in our foyer in order to get everyone in the building. We took desk chairs from the office. Nobody was turned away.”
About 150 dinners were served last year.
Haas said the Christmas dinner is definitely a community event.
“We are so grateful for Northfield Builders for sponsoring the dinner, our partners crime prevention and the RCMP for serving (the meal), RBC for Christmas treats, Bethel Pentecostal for their church van and driver and of course all our amazing volunteers,” he noted in a Facebook post about the event.
The volunteers ensured everyone felt welcome.
“We had greeters on the door so that when you came in you were greeted and welcomed,” he said. “We had Christmas music playing in the background. The Christmas tree was there. We had two or three volunteers waiting to take a person’s coat and hang it up for them. The little things we take for granted can make somebody feel like a million dollars.”
Christmas can be a difficult time for people for various reasons – from relationship breakdown to financial issues to the loss of a loved one, Haas said.
The Community Christmas Dinner impacts people on many levels, Haas said — physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He noted it’s an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together and enjoy a meal and so much more.
“We had seniors, we had widows, we had children, we had married couples, we had divorced people,” Haas said.
No one left the dinner empty-handed. All the adults received a gift bag with a box of chocolates, a pair of socks, a book and a candy cane. There were gift bags for the children and Santa came to the dinner and delivered them.
While the children delighted in the celebrations, Haas said, the adults were also thrilled to see their reactions to Santa.
“Our dinner is meant to bring joy and hope and peace and love, which is really what Christmas is all about,” Hass said. “We want people to feel that joy and hope and peace and love and when they leave, we want them to share that with others.”