Community Shines Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner
Prince George, B.C. – The generosity of the community and the dedication of a force of volunteers are responsible for today’s Thanksgiving Community Dinner hosted by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Co-ordinator Bernie Goold estimates that by the end of the day well over 800 people will have enjoyed a free dinner, running from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, either at the Sacred Heart auditorium or in their home. “Normally,” she says “there’s usually 6 to 700 that come to the meals, it depends on the weather for small families to walk. And then we do deliveries to shut-ins and people who can’t come. So last year the total count for meals was 823 and I do expect that to be exceeded this time.”
She says that’s because “people can no longer afford it, the face of poverty has changed. It’s your next door neighbour, it’s somebody working in the office, it’s your grandmother or grandfather that can no longer afford to go out and buy a turkey and the trimming. And this is a full, hotel-style dinner, the Chef (Ron Christian) puts so much love into it. But we’re privileged to do that only through the generosity of those who donate to us.”
Bernie says there were a lot of groceries that went into putting this meal on. “There was 16 25-pound turkeys, 200 pounds of ham, 250 pounds of potatoes, the chef has made 31 gallons of home-made gravy and there’s probably 50 to 60 kg of fresh vegetables.” (That’s Brian steaming vegetables above right).
And all of that food comes “from donations, from those who give money toward the dinner to help buy turkeys and stuff like that. We get no money for food, we depend totally on the generosity (of people in the community). And we are in awe, we open our doors 365 days a year and we feed people three times a day, twice on weekends, and we have no budget.”
Bernie says any food left over following the dinner “is cooled food-safe and then it goes to our drop-in centre where we will serve it tomorrow. We do serve breakfast, lunch and evening sandwiches every day, except on the weekends when we serve a brunch and afternoon soup and sandwiches.”
Plenty of people turned out to volunteer to put on the dinner. “We have about 60,” says Goold “plus Chef Christian at CNC had his Culinary Arts department at the college preparing all the food there and then delivering it to us hot. We took all of the food to them over the past week and they prepare it there.”
It all leads to a very special event which has been going on for 36 years now. And, editorially speaking, way to go Bernie and Ron and his students, way to go volunteers and way to go people of the caring and compassionate community of Prince George.