Several groups are spreading Christmas cheer into the lives of those in the community who have little to eat or no family in town this holiday season by hosting free meals.
The Salvation Army kicks off the season by hosting a turkey dinner on Sunday (Dec. 23) at the New Hope Centre from 3-5 p.m.
The organization hosts a second dinner – this time ham – on New Year’s Day.
Both dinners are free – the first is sponsored by Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress and the second sponsored by Nanaimo Toyota – but people are asked to pick up tickets from the New Hope Centre, said Rob Anderson, director of Nanaimo community ministries.
The Nanaimo 7-10 Club is hosting its fourth annual Christmas Day breakfast at its headquarters at 285 Prideaux St.
Breakfast runs from 9 a.m. to noon and the menu is scrambled eggs with ham, fruit, juice, dessert and a take away bag lunch of roast beef and cheddar sandwiches.
“People can show up anytime during those three hours,” said Gord Fuller, chairman.
“It gives people a chance to get out on Christmas Day, not be shut in by themselves, and just really enjoy the day.”
The Nanaimo Seventh-Day Adventist Church at 2400 Highland Blvd. is another option on Christmas Day for those looking for some company and a meal.
For the sixth year, the church opens its doors to the public for the entire day. A pancake breakfast takes place at 10 a.m. and then a full turkey dinner at 3:30 p.m.
People are welcome to come hang out there for the day – the church will have Christmas movies playing, games for people to play, hot drinks and a room with used clothing for those who need it.
“It’s a safe place to hang out, be with other people on Christmas Day,” said Darlene van Appelen, a church volunteer.
“We get some regulars, some older people who don’t have family in town, some younger families. It’s amazing the different people we get to meet. Last year we had about 125 people.”
Free transportation to and from the event is available by calling 250-729-5976.
Together We Can will also hand out turkey soup, ham sandwiches, hot drinks and warm clothing Dec. 24-26 at Cavan Street and Victoria Road.
This group will be out Christmas Eve from 5-8 p.m., Christmas Day from 8 a.m. to noon and then 5-8 p.m., and Boxing Day from 8 a.m. to noon.
Don Vanier said the event is targeted at the less fortunate who might not have family they can go to over the holidays.
“The main thing is they’ve got a place where there’s going to be some happy faces,” he said.
The group could use more volunteers or donations.
To help out, please call 250-713-2352 or 250-802-7900.
Nanaimo Youth Services Association hosted a turkey and ham dinner for youth on Dec. 12 as well.