The Stratford Community Christmas Dinner is an event held every year at Christmastime at the Stratford Senior Citizens Hall.
“We arrange a free Christmas dinner for the residents of Stratford. A small number of volunteers set up and decorate the hall, and clean up afterwards. We have a group who lead everyone in singing Christmas carols,” said Bernice Mitchell, Committee Chairperson.
“We get mostly older people coming along. They don’t necessarily have a group of family or friends they can have Christmas dinner with, or they can’t afford to hold a lunch themselves.”
Bernice said the biggest challenge is making sure the committee has enough funds. “If we don’t have the funding, we either have to lower the number of guests or we can’t hold the event.”
“It’s hard getting members for any committee. Our Funding Person has just announced that it’s her last year. We love meeting new committee members and it’s a very small commitment. It takes someone who is computer savvy and confident in applying for funding.”
A grant of $1500 from Toi Foundation assisted with the costs of holding the event in 2020. Around 100 people come to the dinner each year.
“The grant enables us to hold the event. We engage caterers to cook a delicious Christmas dinner. The dinner is open to everyone, not just food bank clients. There are people who have been coming for years. They look forward to it,” Bernice said.
“The people that come along may be new to the region or may have been invited by one of the regulars. It is great for people who may have become single. They sit at a table of 8 and can get to know new people while enjoying Christmas dinner. It is a real morale boost and they get to know that someone cares about them.”