Smiles, hugs, laughter, and kids receiving presents were some of the things easily spotted at the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas luncheon.
Although the Salvation Army has been hosting a special Christmas luncheon for 10 years, Dec. 19 marked the second year the event was held in the Port Hardy Civic Centre.
“What’s happened was we didn’t have a big enough space to hold the people that were coming so we asked the Civic Centre if they would allow us and they donated the hall,” said Salvation Army’s Community Ministries Supervisor Michael Winter.
The event was so popular that more 140 people were in attendance by 12 o’clock, with the event running until two in the afternoon.
“We do it at lunch because we provide lunch Monday to Friday so we wanted to do a special Christmas lunch and that’s how it kind of sparked, but we have everyone involved,” said Winter, adding,“It’s the community that puts it on really – we couldn’t do it without these people.”
The Port Hardy Lions Club donated the use of the Civic Centre, Taziker’s Restaurant donated some their staff for the whole day in order to help prepare the food, and both The Bargain Store and Fields gave discounts for the presents that Santa gave out to children during the meal.
Over 100 presents were given out for kids of all different age groups.
“It is literally a community effort for the community,” said Winter adding, “So every part and every stage we work together for this one special day and the town gets to have this awesome time.”
Volunteers were dressed in Christmas sweaters, holiday music played, and people from throughout the community sat down together to share a full turkey dinner and dessert.
“There are people that may not feel good this time of year and we want them to know if they are facing challenges they are not alone,” said Winter, adding “There is someone there for them and we act as an extended family to provide support.”
Winter said the Christmas luncheon is similar to an expanded version of the regular lunch program at the Salvation Army, as they work to provide the same atmosphere of community support on a daily basis.
“I can’t describe it in words but the feeling is just amazing,” said Winter, adding “We want to highlight the community getting together, goodwill, kindness, and sharing.”