By Bobinec, Greg on December 16, 2019.
Dozens of volunteers helped cook and serve a hot Christmas dinner to people who might go without this holiday season, for the 21st annual Community Christmas Dinner held Saturday evening by the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association.
Twenty-one years ago, the SAEA saw a need to provide a free Christmas dinner for those in the community who may not be able to afford one for themselves or their families. The SAEA wanted everyone in Lethbridge to receive a warm meal and to feel included and valued.
“Today we have the 21st annual Community Christmas Dinner where we invite community members to come and eat for free,” says Anastasia Sereda, co-ordinator with SAEA. “We have all of these volunteers here that have spent time cooking, and we have several food donations so that we can feed people who might not be able to get a Christmas dinner of their own this year.”
Last year, over 200 people including individuals and families attended their annual dinner. In addition to the free meal, the SAEA also held a coat drive to hand out coats and winter apparel to keep them warm during the cold winter.
“It is great, it is a nice way to give back to our community so that people can come in from the cold during the day and just have some Christmas cheer,” says Sereda.
“It has been really good. The other day I had someone come and ask when the community dinner is going to be, because a lot of people just know about it and we have re-occurring visitors. We have also done a coat drive, so there is coats and warm winter apparel for families or individuals who are in need.”
This year, Mayor Chris Spearman, Police Chief Scott Woods, Inspector Russell Lawrence, Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips, and Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf were in attendance to show their support for some of the most marginalized members of the community.
“I think it is important to bring some dignitaries throughout the community because they are such a big part of the community so I think it is really important for them to come and show their support, especially for the most marginalized members of our community, because they are still a part of our community and we need to show them some love over the holidays,” she says.
The evening before, the SAEA hosted an international event, Christmas Around the World, where organizations came together to share the different traditions they take part in over the holiday season. Sereda says it is a really fun time and an interesting way to learn about the world.
“Yesterday we had our Christmas Around the World event so we are kind of doing double duty with Christmas parties,” says Sereda. “Christmas around the world was a way for our member organizations to show the different ways they celebrate Christmas and there is food and crafts for kids, songs, dancing, music, it’s really fun. It is really interesting to see how different countries celebrate Christmas or the holiday season.”
Over the weekend, the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association worked on building the community as they welcomed all cultures to their events, to be served a warm meal and spread some holiday spirit to those who might not have it otherwise.
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