pstairs of the Victory Church to the outside alleyway was a stern reminder of just how many people are in need in Penticton.
On Wednesday, over 200 people showed up to the free community Christmas dinner hosted by the church and its volunteers.
“It’s not really a surprise to me,” said volunteer Sharon Martens about the turnout, who also gives her time at the Soupateria.
For volunteers it was simply a way to give back and share the spirit of the season, but for those enjoying the meal it was much more. Roaring cheers and applause broke out when the MC of the event asked how their dinner was tasting. And if that wasn’t an indicator, the many going up for seconds was.
“It’s nice to be able to help others during Christmas,” said Martens. “And everyone that comes here is gracious and it makes for a very friendly atmosphere.”
While many who enjoyed the dinner on Wednesday have homes to live in, they scrape by with meagre belongings and supplies.
One pregnant woman was with her two children sitting at a table listening to the band play and eating the ham dinner with all the trimmings including desserts. The woman, who did not want her name disclosed, said they will be depending on the food hamper program for their actual Christmas dinner.
“This is the first time I have brought my kids here,” she said while getting another plate of food to take back to the table.
“I have my 12-year-old here with me and it is nice to show him that despite so many tragic things that happen in life there are people who still care out there. It also shows him the spirit of the season and how important it is to give back.”
On top of the free dinner and entertainment, businesses in the community donated over 40 prizes from free pizza coupons to blankets that were handed out. As guests left the banquet area they were also treated to a goodie bag filled with treats from church volunteer bakers and supplies such as new socks and donated clothes if they wanted them.
“We are by no means professional caterers,” joked Trevor Hoffman, pastor at Victory Church. “But everyone seemed to love it and it was such a great time.”