Friendship Centre delivers warmth of the giving season

This was the first of what is hoped to be an annual sit-down Christmas meal provided by the Friendship Centre on Ellis Street.

Servers from Penticton Secondary School dish up hot meals for those attending the Christmas lunch at the Ooknakane Friendship Centre Tuesday.



Three-year-old Alexa Sundberg was all smiles as mom Britney set a hefty plate of turkey, ham and all the trimmings in front her Tuesday at the Ooknakane Friendship Centre.

Britney and her daughter were just two of the many people who had a warm place to go that day to enjoy a hot meal and the peace of the Christmas season.

“I really can’t tell you how much this means to the both of us and everyone in this room,” said mom as she watched Alexa chow down on a forkful of stuffing from the festive plate. “This is really important to me to see the community getting together and to see everybody who comes to the centre for resources and help from what they offer here.

“These people come here to find a little enjoyable time in their day and it just means the world to them to be able to come here to enjoy their meal. It’s the Christmas holiday and everybody enjoys everybody’s company, there’s not a single unfriendly person here.”

This was the first of what is hoped to be an annual sit-down Christmas meal provided by the Friendship Centre on Ellis Street which is a First Nations, not-for-profit society dedicated to helping all peoples.

“Today is our first Christmas hot lunch and it’s something that we believe is really important for these people who are with us here today,” said the centre’s executive director Matthew Baran, who welcomed the first wave of diners just after noon.

Among the many volunteers who made the meal possible were a group of students from Penticton Secondary School, expected to be joined by others from Princess Margaret Secondary.

That included a number of exchange students from as far away as Mexico and Japan.

“We have a pretty eclectic group here that’s for sure,” said Baran.

In addition to serving the food to the guests, students helped out in the kitchen doing prep work, and Pen High members also baked cookies and packed gift bags for those attending to take with them when they left.

“We’re here just to give a hand to people who might not have a place to go at Christmas or a place to be at Christmas and just to be part of the community,” said Pen High student Catherine Critchlow. “I wanted help because Christmas has always been a fantastic time with my family and it’s sad to think there are others out there who don’t have as fantastic a time.”

As a special treat diners started off the meal with a hot cup of specialty coffee and some appetizers before the entrée of fresh cooked ham, turkey, along with vegetables and even scalloped potatoes.

Among those in the kitchen was Donna Falck, a member of the centre’s board of directors and the person in charge of the ham.

“At this time of year it’s really cold outside and the staff and volunteers have prepared an amazing feast and presents,” said Falck. “It’s going to be a really nice time to see people who are disadvantaged to have something special for them.”

Christopher McGowan was one of those people.

“I’m alone, and I can’t tell you just how much this means to me,” he said. “This is really fantastic and it is really going to bring a lot of people together and that’s what Christmas is all about.”

 

Just Posted

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton

The 26th ceremony welcomed powerful figures both on and off the ice

Peach Classic Triathlon

While Penticton contemplates changes in the long-distance triathlon community with Ironman returning… Continue reading

Armchair Book Club: Delving into the threat of big tech

Heather Allen is a book reviewer for Black Press that lives in the Okanagan

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Showers to start weekend, sun returning soon

Environment Canada forecasts rain on Saturday and the heat returning next week

UPDATE: Penticton resident’s dog found safe

Nicholas Bozak thanks the public for finding his 17 month old mastiff chow

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

The first lunar landing 50 years ago was a time to celebrate dreams and accomplishments

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Okanagan e-scooter company foils robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations in Kelowna

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to the Okanagan

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event in Kelowna

Column: Understanding weather patterns a key to a successful garden

Columnist dives into Okanagan urban agriculture

Most Read