From the live music to the food, right down to the smiles and greetings between old friends and relatives, the annual Souls Harbour Rescue Mission Christmas Dinner has the atmosphere of a massive family meal.
“There’s people in our community that wouldn’t get a Christmas meal without us supplying this Christmas meal and it becomes a family and we want to make sure that we have that special time for our guests and our volunteers,” said Deana Struble, marketing manager for Souls Harbour.
Struble said many volunteers and guests come back year after year, forming a special bond.
From the moms feeding toddlers to the uncles teasing their nieces and nephews, it’s a true family event.
“Excitement and you know the joy, happy, everybody’s smiling – it just feels good in there, I really like coming to these events,” said Nina Lerat, who has made it a tradition to come to all the big meals at Souls Harbour.
She added that she loves seeing all the moms and dads bringing their babies and young children, adding that she is grateful for the generosity of people at Souls Harbour.
“For sure (it’s like) one big family and they’re so friendly and you know, they don’t judge you I guess,” Lerat said.
Lerat has seven daughters and explains that they are cooking for her on Christmas Day this year. But that’s not the case for many people who depend on this free meal for their Christmas.
“It helps a lot of us needy families,” Roy Wahpoosewyan said, noting that he has health issues from a stroke so it’s handier to come to a free meal and he appreciates it.
“I enjoy the fellowship with my relatives and friends,” Wahpoosewyan said while greeting his niece and her children at the door.
This year the mission is expecting to serve dinner to up to 450 people from North Central.