As children count down the days until Santa makes his annual visit, community groups around the district are gearing up to ensure as many people as possible who want a special holiday meal are able to get one.
Beginning in Fort Frances, the Cridland family at the Flint House are once more organizing the annual Community Christmas Dinner. This marks the third year in a row that the Cridland family have undertaken the holiday dinner, which feeds hundreds. It’s made a bit easier by the fact that they have access to the kitchens at the Flint House, but make no mistake, Christine Cridland stressed that this is an undertaking the entire family rallies behind, restaurant or not.
“We’re happy to do it again,” Cridland said.
“Our whole family loves to do it. It’s really the Cridland family that does it, we just utilize the Flint House. We are happy to be able to help everyone, and we appreciate all the donations, all the volunteers, everything from the community.”
The Community Christmas Dinner is operating almost exactly the same way as it did last year, said Cridland; those interested in getting a meal are asked to call ahead at 276-6425 to reserve a plate for either pick-up or delivery.
“Everything is the same,” she said.
“The only thing that’s different is the time. Delivery is going out starting at 3:00 p.m. and pick-up is starting at 3:30 p.m. It’s just a little bit later than it was in the past.”
The plate will have all the fixings one could expect for a holiday meal, including turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and a dessert. Cridland noted there’s still plenty of time and space left to put an order in for a plate ahead of Christmas Day.
“Our numbers are getting up there,” Cridland said.
“We want to feed as many people as we possibly can. We’d love to be where we were at last year. I think we served 350 last year. We’re about halfway there now.”
The Cridland family aren’t the only ones helping to give everyone a holiday meal this Christmas.
The Emo Knox United Church has a limited number of plates available for their own Christmas Dinner, which will be a take home and heat-it-yourself meal.
According to Joyce Meyers, this year’s dinner is being held in conjunction with New Gold, who made a sizeable donation to their cause, which is helping to spread a bit of Christmas joy around town.
“We have made up 125 dinners, and so far I’m at 113 orders,” Meyers said.
“So we’re just about full. It’s a frozen dinner, so they can take it home and warm it up whenever they want.”
The meals are available for pickup or delivery on Christmas Eve, with the window for both being between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Friday. Meyers said they have a number of deliveries scheduled already, with some steps encompassing multiple meals, like the one to the manor.
“We started the frozen meals last year and we didn’t know how well it would go over, but it’s been very popular,” Meyers said.
Anyone hoping to get one of the few remaining meals in Emo should call Meyers as soon as possible at 482-2086 to get on the list before it fills up.
When reached for comment, New Gold’s community relations coordinator Anne Marie Rousseau said the organization is pleased to be able to help support an important community event like the Christmas dinner.
“New Gold is proud to once again, be sponsoring the Emo Knox United Church’s Annual Christmas Take out Dinner,” Rousseau wrote.
“Last year close to 100 people were served with a full-course Christmas meal. The dinner is run by volunteers and meals are available for pick-up or delivery to individuals within the outlying areas from Devlin to Rainy River First Nation. It is open to everyone and focuses on showing love to those feeling alone, emotionally overwhelmed, hungry, and financially challenged. The impact of COVID has further isolated people within our communities and the dinner is one way to bring our community closer together.” In another part of the district, Couchiching First Nation held their annual Community Christmas Dinner on Saturday, December 18 at the Multi-Use Facility.