Christmas cheer is on the menu

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
xmas dinner
ON AGAIN: Shown is last year's community Christmas dinner, which can now be repeated due to a large response of volunteers.

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A "staggering" response to an appeal for volunteers has ensured this year's Community Christmas Dinner will go ahead.

The event will be held at the Caroline Bay Hall thanks to a collaborative effort between staff at 101, the Mental Wellness Drop-in Centre, and the StoneBridge Function Venue.

The Jericho Road Charitable Trust has hosted a Christmas dinner for the past four years, with the help of 30 volunteers and 12 key people to co-ordinate the day in the weeks leading up to Christmas. However, this time round they struggled to get the support needed so decided last month to cancel their event.

Since the announcement, 101's Mark Bourassa, John Fallon and Lou Adams have been working tirelessly to recruit helpers and apply for grants to ensure the popular event can still go ahead. Their appeals have been answered, Mr Bourassa said. "It definitely will happen - there's no doubt about that," he said.

"The phones were ringing from 8 o'clock [yesterday] morning.

"The response has been phenomenal - people have just been coming out of the woodwork."

He said $1200 was also donated to the cause yesterday and people have offered to help on the day, including entertainers, chefs and waitstaff.

StoneBridge owner Carmel Daly and her staff have also been working tirelessly behind the scenes, taking names of people keen to help on the day and organising food.

Mrs Daly said she had also received support from wholesale food supplier Bidvest and Ritchies Coachlines, which has agreed to provide free transport to and from the dinner to those attending.

Ritchies area manager Philip Boel said several drivers had volunteered their time.

Organisers predict the dinner, which is expected to start at noon, will be attended by up to 280 people.

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- The Timaru Herald

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