Christmas dinner needs volunteers

Duane Hicks

Christmas is the season of giving, and those wanting to give a little of their time to a good cause need not look further than the 23rd-annual community Christmas dinner.
While plans for the popular event are shaping up nicely, more volunteers are needed to make it a reality.
Head organizer Karen Mitchell of the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau said the community once again has come together to donate cash and food for the dinner, which is being held on Saturday, Dec. 25 from noon-2 p.m. at Knox United Church.
Mitchell said quite a few hams and turkeys, along with vegetables and other food items, have been donated so far, as have poinsettias for the tables and to give to “Meals on Wheels” recipients.
As well, as a participant in the OPP’s “Stuff the Cruiser” initiative, Mitchell expects the rest of what she needs (such as numerous boxes of stuffing) will be donated come Dec. 11, when the OPP cruisers will be parked outside participating locations around town.
“I gave [Cst. Anne McCoy] a Christmas list, and people will be able to look at the list when they’re at Safeway, and see the Volunteer Bureau needs this, this, and this, and Anne checks it off,” she explained.
But what’s really needed now is volunteers to help out on the day of the dinner.
Mitchell said she and others will be decorating the church hall on Dec. 22-23, then on Christmas morning she’ll be there cooking.
“Not too many people have phoned yet to volunteer as kitchen help,” she admitted, noting anyone is welcome to work with her in the church kitchen on the morning of Dec. 25 to have the food ready first for those getting their “Meals on Wheels,” and then those who attend the dinner.
She chuckled it’s not easy draining and then mashing pot after pot of boiled potatoes, adding she’s roped her husband and a few other guys into helping out in that regard.
Volunteers also are badly-needed to clear away dirty dishes from the tables and prepare the place settings for the next wave of guests.
People also are encouraged to help out taking down the Christmas decorations, putting away the tables and chairs, and otherwise cleaning up after the dinner is over.
On the plus side, Mitchell said she already has all of her “Meals on Wheels” drivers and volunteers lined up to put together the trays to be delivered.
Those wanting to volunteer can contact Mitchell at 274-9555 (leave a message if she’s not there).
As in past years, everyone is welcome to attend the community Christmas dinner, which is free.
This year’s event is expected to include music courtesy of Diane Maxey and the Fort Frances Choraliers.
Despite a major snowstorm on Christmas Eve, last year’s dinner drew more than 150 people, with another 58 locals receiving “Meals on Wheels.”