Plenty of joy at charity Christmas dinner

A dedicated team of volunteers traded time with their own families to make sure everyone got to enjoy a Christmas lunch.

Yesterday was the 25th year New Plymouth's Community Christmas Charitable Trust has put on a spread for about 300 people on Christmas Day.

The event includes live Christmas-themed music, a dinner of ham, chicken, potatoes, peas and carrots and a Santa corner where children sat on his knee and received a small gift.

Committee member Ken Davies said about 250 people showed up as well as the 50-odd meals they delivered to people who did not have transport.

"Some people here have been coming for years. It's an open door. Any religion, any caste, all are welcome."

The food was donated from businesses and people also donated cash.

Carol Fisher has sat on the committee since its first meeting and said the event has evolved over time. "At the first one we didn't know how many would turn up, nobody really knew what they were doing.

"It goes like clockwork nowadays because we're now a charitable trust."

Mrs Fisher is in charge of organising the volunteers and reckons she has the best job of the whole committee. "I enjoy the company, the people and the atmosphere."

She said she continued to be blown away by the number of people who offered to volunteer their time.

"I get to the stage I have to turn people away."

Mrs Fisher's family lived far away and the community dinner was a good substitute, she said.

"It's better than sharing chicken with yourself."

"Tiny" and "Ash" are a duo who have been coming to St Joseph's for Christmas lunch for about 12 years.

Tiny said they used to provide the entertainment.

"We normally come in our clown suits. We thought this year we'd have a turn sitting down."

Ash said his alter ego had been "Clelf"' - "half clown, half elf".

"But now there's Santa and Mrs Claus and they can handle it themselves," Tiny said.

Ash said this year was special because the event had reached its 25th birthday.

"It's become an institution, so that's good."

Taranaki Daily News