The tradition of providing free community Christmas meals continues this year, with organisers expecting the biggest turnout yet.
A free Christmas lunch has been held at the Orewa Community Centre on Christmas Day for 20 years, and food rescue charity Love Soup also has a very well attended Christmas meal in Whangaparaoa.
This is the 20th year that the free Christmas lunch, currently organised by the Salt Community Trust, has been held in Orewa. Last year a record 180 people attended and event coordinator Debra Hunt says she expects this year will be even bigger.
“People have had a pretty tough year and it’s been very isolating,” Debra says.
Each year 30-50 volunteers, along with business sponsors, donors and support from local churches make the event happen. There is rarely any shortage of volunteers.
“The community really makes this happen,” Debra says. “So many people work really hard and volunteers turn up despite how busy they are with their own lives. It’s a fantastic, feel-good event to be part of.”
Debra says volunteers are really excited to be able to put the event on.
“We don’t want anyone to feel isolated or lonely this Christmas,” she says. “We have plans for operating safely if Covid-19 alert levels change, but we’re really hoping to still be at Level 1 on Christmas Day.”
Extra health and hygiene measures will be in place.
The meal is on at Orewa Community Centre, 368 Hibiscus Coast Highway on Christmas Day, 11.30am-2pm. Everyone is welcome and there is no need to book.
A cellist will play while everyone enjoys the free meal, with all the trimmings.
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Love Soup shares Christmas love
Love Soup director Julie King is also expecting a record turnout at her charity’s free Christmas feast.
The first free Christmas dinner that Love Soup held at Whangaparaoa Hall was in 2016, and 2018 saw around 240 guests attend.
Julie says last year, because they asked for pre-registrations, this dropped to around 200 but volunteers are catering for around 200 sitting down and another 100 takeaway Christmas meals this year.
“We do think it will be big, and to ensure health and safety we can’t be overcrowded,” Julie says. “However, we have enough to feed everyone who comes and will not turn anyone away. Once the dine-in seats run out we will provide a takeaway.”
Around 30 volunteers are involved.
Love Soup’s Christmas meal is on Sunday, December 20 at Whangaparaoa Community Hall, 5pm-8pm and includes a visit from Santa, gifts and Karaoke.
If anyone would like to help wrap gifts for the children (which is taking place from December 16-Christmas Eve), email Sue, email@example.com