Christmas dinner draws big turnout

Duane Hicks

After seeing a smaller number of patrons last year due to a snowstorm, the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau’s 23rd-annual community Christmas dinner on Saturday was a beehive of activity.
Lead organizer Karen Mitchell said yesterday that 320 people attended the dinner, which ran from noon-2 p.m. at Knox United Church, with at least another 60 people getting “Meals on Wheels” delivered to them that day.
To give people a better idea of how much food was prepared, and eaten, Mitchell ran through some of the numbers.
A total 16 turkeys were prepared for the meal and at the end of the day, there were only two left (which were donated to David’s Deli soup kitchen).
Six large hams, 175 pounds of potatoes, 70 pounds of turnips, four-five large bags of corn and peas, and 80 boxes of stuffing were cooked and served up—all of which were eaten by those on hand.
“We just scraped by,” chuckled Mitchell, noting only six cupcakes were left from the various desserts prepared and just 40 of 400 buns.
“I think we had a little bowl of coleslaw left,” she remarked.
“We just made it by the skin of our teeth.”
Mitchell said she had been planning to have enough food ready for 300 people. But when she heard the weather would be so nice, she made sure she had enough for at least another 20.
Of course, she wouldn’t have enough food without the generous donations of local individuals and businesses.
“If it wasn’t for the donations, we would have really been trying to pay the bills after the holiday was over,” noted Mitchell, adding she only has to pay one local business a few dollars and that’s it.
“Everything pretty well worked out even.”
Mitchell said the event ran quite smoothly, thanks to the fact it was supported by a large number of volunteers, whether they were delivering “Meals on Wheels,” cooking, serving, clearing tables, washing dishes, or anything else.
Some of them were members of groups like the Kiwanis and Lions while others were individuals who just showed up and starting working in the kitchen.
The last of the volunteers that day, including Mitchell and members of her family, cleaned up the church hall and out everything away, locking the door behind them around 5:30 p.m.
“All in all, it was nice,” Mitchell summarized.
“I think the run-around things are the hardest to do,” she chuckled. “My legs are still sore from running up and down those stairs, bringing in stuff.”
Diane Maxey and her Choraliers provided some musical entertainment throughout Saturday’s dinner.
There also was a draw for Christmas gifts—one each for a man, woman, boy, and girl (the winners of these still were being contacted as of yesterday morning).
Meanwhile, Lowey’s Greenhouses delivered a large shipment of poinsettias to the dinner, both to place on the tables and to deliver to each person receiving “Meals on Wheels.”
About 100 of the festive plants were given away at the end of the dinner for patrons to take home.
Mitchell, who acted as lead organizer of the Christmas dinner for a second time this year, had been working on it since October.
And while it is good deal of work, even now she figures she’ll do it again next year.
“I am tired. But it was nice, it was fun,” she remarked.