500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Ricky Sauer and John Henson enjoy a Christmas dinner at Cool Aid’s downtown Victoria community centre. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Caroline George and her mother Ava enjoy their Christmas dinner together at Cool Aid’s community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Caroline George and her mother Ava enjoy their Christmas dinner together at Cool Aid’s community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Hundreds of community members gathered at Cool Aid’s downtown Victoria community centre on Wednesday for a special holiday meal.

About 500 pounds of turkey alongside all of the traditional Christmas sides were prepared in Cool Aid kitchens for community members to enjoy and share with friends and family.

It was thanks to Sysco Foods, individual donors and many volunteers that this meal was possible.

“We couldn’t do this without the generosity of the community,” said Alan Rycroft, community relations manager with Cool Aid.

The holiday dinner is an annual event that used to be solely for Cool Aid tenants but has since been opened up to others, with about 300 individuals partaking in the dinner.

READ ALSO: Cool Aid Society saves affordable apartment from uncertain future

Rycroft said more people are seen indoors during the holidays due to the cold, wet weather. That means more people might be using Cool Aid’s shelter programs as well. The community centre, for example, converts into a night time shelter to accommodate extra people.

A warm meal that they can enjoy with community members can make all the difference at this time of year, according to Rycroft.

Lori Angelini, manager of philanthropy with Cool Aid, said donations from the community increase around the holidays because people recognize there is greater need for things like good food and holiday cheer.

“It’s overwhelming,” Angelini said.

With 19 locations, Cool Aid is able to bring Christmas dinners to each of the organization’s buildings thanks to generous donations.

“I think because a lot of our clients are very low income and either living in a bachelor or staying in a shelter, there aren’t many opportunities for a community gathering like this,” Angelini said. “So we put a call out so they can enjoy a meal with their family and friends.”

READ ALSO: Captured in time: Cool Aid unveils photos from its 50 years of history

Paul Stewart is a Red Seal chef who went from working in restaurants to working for Cool Aid. He was behind Thursday’s Christmas dinner and has been with the organization for almost three years. He also helps cook thousands of meals a week that are served by Cool Aid at its various locations.

“I typically came up through restaurants and catering and I always sort of felt like something was missing…you’re just basically cooking for people with a lot of money essentially,” Stewart said. “The rewards to me are greater now…this matters more to me. This has more of a human connection. They’re genuinely happy…this might be the only time they have a hot meal today.”

Cool Aid serves 980 meals every day and over 350,000 per year out of two commercial kitchens. About 12,000 clients are served by Cool Aid each year in the region.

In the coming years, the organization plans to increase local food purchases for meals, expand its commercial kitchen and add food-related social enterprises for some of its tenants.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canada Post aware of ongoing email, text phishing scams

Scammers pretending to be Canada Post will ask for personal and payment information

Suicide rates not impacted by seasons

While men are three times more likely to commit suicide, women have higher rates of depression

Camosun student shares story of overcoming struggles to inspire others

Provincial Tuition Waiver Program helps former youths in care attend post-secondary institutions

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read