From left, volunteer MJ Johnston, a dinner recipient, and volunteers John and Elaine Hansen were part of the project on Dec. 25 that saw the three Rotary Clubs based in Salmon Arm, with help from two churches, provide 600 meals to anyone who wanted a free take-away Christmas dinner. (Photo contributed)

From left, volunteer MJ Johnston, a dinner recipient, and volunteers John and Elaine Hansen were part of the project on Dec. 25 that saw the three Rotary Clubs based in Salmon Arm, with help from two churches, provide 600 meals to anyone who wanted a free take-away Christmas dinner. (Photo contributed)

‘It was very successful’: Rotary clubs distribute 600 Christmas dinners in Salmon Arm

Recipients grateful for free meal cooked at Sorrento Centre and served by two local churches

Shuswap and Salmon Arm Rotary Clubs have done it again.

The three clubs and their partners in the community made it their mission to provide everyone who would not have access to a Christmas dinner the chance to have one.

The plan was to make available 600 free turkey dinners with all the trimmings. To access the free meal, people were encouraged to get tickets ahead of time. Tickets were available at a number of locations such as the Salvation Army Food Bank, the 5th Avenue Seniors Centre, the Seniors’ Resource Centre, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Shuswap Family Centre, the SAFE Society, Churches Thrift Shop and the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Hudson Thrift Shoppe.

The turkeys were prepared, cooked and carved by the Sorrento Centre and then sent to this year’s two participating churches: First United and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. A food company provided potatoes, other vegetables, stuffing and more. Then volunteers at each church assembled 300 take-away dinners.

John Hansen of the Shuswap Rotary Club explained that about 500 tickets had been distributed over the three weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The Daybreak Rotary Club and the Salmon Arm club also participated.

From noon to about 3 p.m. on Dec. 25, people either came to one of the two churches to pick up their meals or volunteers delivered them. Hansen said of the almost 500 dinners distributed, 375 were picked up and the remainder taken to recipients.

It wasn’t just Rotarians who did the work, he is quick to add, but friends of Rotarians, church members and others.

Read more: Rotary clubs in Salmon Arm step up again to provide Christmas dinners for all

With 105 of the 600 dinners left over at the end, Second Harvest came and picked them up. They were put in freezers and will be distributed to people in need.

“Nothing was wasted,” said Hansen. “All in all it was very successful.”

Although he didn’t do deliveries this year, Hansen said the delivery volunteers were saying people were extremely appreciative. Some even provided donations.

”I think we collected $90 for the food bank. They are very appreciative of us doing it.”

People who received the dinners came from all parts of the community, he said.

“I know one of our members was delivering to the people who were homeless, in tents. Also a lot of seniors who are shut in – in some cases they were single, maybe having recently lost their husbands or wives, and were quite alone. We had people who were just discharged from hospital so it was quite timely for them. There are people who maybe don’t have a car or have lost their licence. Of course it was also a bit slippery on Christmas Day. The larger deliveries would be to seniors’ housing complexes,” he explained.

“It’s right across the board. For anyone who will be alone or can’t make a meal for whatever reason.”

Hansen said quite a few people missed out on getting a ticket for the free meal, so if someone showed up and needed a Christmas dinner they were given one.

“We were quite pleased; it was a very successful Christmas event.”

Read more: Shuswap hockey squad takes top honours in prestigious Kamloops tourney



martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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