Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Community Christmas Dinner

On Sunday, December 16th, the real meaning of "community" was experienced and demonstrated at Forest View Church in Oakville, as a traditional Christmas dinner was served to almost 400 guests - serving people who were from lower-income, new-to-Canada and marginalized sectors of the Halton region.  

The church sanctuary was transformed into an elegant banquet dining room - with 22 tables set up, all decorated with fine linens and china and silverware, centerpieces and candles.  Christmas trees decorated with mini lights and silver and purple ornaments graced the foyer space.  Gifts for the children of the families who attended the meal were provided. 

The whole event was run by various teams of volunteers.   One team stayed after church services in order to rearrange the sanctuary and set it up the dining room and do all the decorating.  At 4:00, for the first sitting - several people volunteered to drive guests who neeed rides.  A couple dozen volunteers arrived - some bringing hot cooked food and others who came to serve the food and wait on and clear tables.  One team of people worked the toy room, wrapping the gifts that guests selected for their children.  Other volunteers were table hosts, there to make guests feel welcome.  Then, after the first sitting, all new teams of volunteers arrived to do the whole thing over again at 6:30... and after that, a whole clean up crews came to tidy up and re-set the sanctuary back to a church setting.  All told probably close to 100 volunteers were involved to provide a delicious meal and great experience for over 400 guests.

It was a wonderful event to be a part of... to see the joy on the faces of people as they walked into a candle lit room.  To see them enjoy the children of the church who performed some Christmas songs during the first sitting... and to hear the musical treat of a jazz trio during the second sitting.   To meet families who were new to Canada and eating their first ever turkey dinner.   To hear the laugher and the chatter of people from various cultures, sitting together, interacting, and sharing in the joy of the meal and evening.   To hear guests express their gratitude for the gift of a nice evening out with a delicious meal as well.   To watch the volunteers scurrying around the dining room... taking care of needs and requests, serving guests with humility and graciousness.  To see the excited faces of children carrying their wrapped presents home with them at the end of the night.  It was truly an event that warmed my heart and brought joy to my soul... and one I look forward to helping with again next year!

Merry Christmas!

Paul Millar - Event Coordinator
Special Events Rentals
All the Volunteers from Forest View Church
and of course... the guests!!