The Third Annual Community Christmas Dinner will take place between noon and around 2 on Christmas Day: a completely free celebration which includes a full traditional Christmas dinner and desserts, beverages, music and lots and lots of good cheer. This community initiative means that people who might be on their own on Christmas Day, or those who just want to be part of the celebration of the holiday, can come together and enjoy this traditional gathering at St. John’s United Church, Prescott Street, in Kemptville.

Last year, approximately 250 meals were served, including sit-down, delivery, and special meals. And it was all the work of volunteers who donated the food, the decorations, the drinks, who cooked, prepared and served the food, set and cleared the tables, washed the dishes and played live music. It included volunteers collecting people from their homes, and bringing them back home afterwards, even to places outside North Grenville. It included volunteers delivering meals to people who could not come to Leslie Hall, the venue last year, but wanted to share in the day.

When it was learned that there were almost a dozen people working on Christmas Day at Kemptville District Hospital, meals were delivered to them too. And it was all done without fuss, anonymously and with great grace. As one organiser put it: “This is a community event, with all individuals involved believing it is better to give than receive during this special time, and who want to share their day with their friends and neighbours”.

Extra tables had to be set up to cope with the crowd, and it seemed that, as soon as a place became vacant, it was immediately filled with a newcomer, cutlery supplied and bowls of coleslaw and condiments ready to hand. The servers were cheerful, and the portions were generous. One woman stood by with her young girls serving bread rolls. Others were in the kitchen keeping the servers supplied with turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, vegetables, and everything needed for a happy Christmas meal. It was wonderful.

Remember: it is all done free of charge, no credit asked, no thanks required. That is the Christmas spirit in our communities.

We have a community that can provide a fantastic Christmas dinner, service groups and churches, individuals and organisations that stand on the front line to be a link between those who need help, and those who can provide it. Let’s make sure that the spirit shown on Christmas Day continues to be shown throughout 2018. Whatever is going on in the rest of the world, we can be so thankful that we live in such a country, such a province, such a municipality.

Many thanks for the congregation at St. John’s United Church for opening their doors to the community this way, after our venue for the past two years, Leslie Hall, became so sadly unavailable.

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