Volunteers spend Christmas Day serving dinner to local residents

There is an old saying, ‘it’s better to give than to receive.’Marg Scheben-Edey and husband John believe in this.The Collingwood residents were looking to give something back to the community on Christmas.“We wanted to put meaning back into Christmas for our family and we were looking for an opportunity to volunteer on Christmas Day,” she said. “We quickly came to realize, there was nothing on Christmas Day taking place in Collingwood.”

So in 2014, the family recruited a group of volunteers and decided to invite the community to dinner.

The Christmas Day Feast is in its fourth year and has become a tradition in Collingwood where members of the community, from all walks of life, break bread to celebrate the season.

This year’s event takes place at the Collingwood Curling Club, with 150 expected to attend, making for another full event.

More than 100 volunteers spend the weeks before Christmas preparing for the big day, whether it’s putting up posters, prepping apple crisp days before or ensuring they have enough food. There will be about 80 volunteers preparing and serving dinner on the day of the event.

The dinner includes turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes and dessert and is free of charge for all of those who attend.

Scheben-Edey said they receive financial donations, food contributions and other sponsorship from the community.

“There has been so much outreach from the community, we’re really grateful,” she said.

She said the feast sees children, seniors and families attend and everyone is there for a different reason.

“It depends on what your definition of need is,” Scheben-Edey said in an interview with simcoe.com “A lot of people assume economic need and that certainly is part of it. Needs are greater than that and one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is people are lonely on Christmas.”

She said the greatest part of the day is some of the stories they hear from the attendees.

“I spent a lot of the day choked up crying over things that happened that day,” Scheben-Edey said. “It felt like miracles happened all day long. That night we had blisters on our feet, we were all exhausted, but we all sat down and said, ‘best Christmas ever.’”

Shelby Worts has been volunteering since day one and now her entire family is involved.

“Our hearts are bursting by the end of the day,” she said. “I think we all came together, thinking we were giving this gift to the community but it’s amazing how much you receive.”

While the event is set for 2017, looking ahead to 2018, Worts said they are in need of a larger venue to host the event. She said a space for 200 people that includes a kitchen would be ideal.

“We have outgrown this space,” said Worts. “Our challenge is that we want to have this available to whoever needs it and wants it. We want to keep it in town.”

For more information on the event visit collingwoodfeast.com.