Christmas community supper continues to bring people together

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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When it comes to supporting families in need, it takes a village.

Julie Isbister of the Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race serves stuffing at the Christmas community supper at the Food Bank.

By Mara Selanders

It also helps when the village is made up of a diverse network of organizations and individuals who are dedicated to the cause year-round.

The Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank held its annual Christmas supper on Monday, which saw the Northern Lights Casino, Girl Guides, Canadian Challenge, and individual families come together to serve the community.

“Societies are judged by how well they look after their less fortunate and wow,” said Wes Clark, co-general manager of the Food Bank.

“Definitely lots of volunteers--it’s fabulous.”

About 150 people were served last year, and though co-general manager Kerry Ramstell says there were less people this year due to the weather, there was still an abundance of community support.

Clark said is always impressed by the number of volunteers who continue to support the Food Bank year after year.

Organizations now contact him to secure a volunteering spot, and after a successful inaugural year of the Tree of Angels campaign, he says that he is looking forward to seeing it grow.

The Tree of Angels campaign was spearheaded by staff at the Casino, who donated hundreds of gifts to give out to children through the Food Bank.

“Over and over again through the season I have seen how much of a caring community we have and it’s just so great to see everybody out, both in the way of volunteers and in the way of food donations.” Clark said.

“It’s just been a huge help.”

Casino general manager Richard Ahenakew said that there were about 11 of his staff volunteering at the supper, doing everything from serving to dishwashing.

The casino has a volunteer committee made up of staff and management that decide to what organization they will donate their volunteer time.

They don’t limit that time to the holiday season, spending the remainder of the year doing food drives and raising money to help out where they can.

Ahenakew says that volunteering of the casino staff is about more than simply giving back.

“I’m not sure if giving back is the right term--it’s more support. They believe in what the organization is doing here. They believe in the lives it touches and the ways it touches the lives out there.”

“Their heart leads them to that,” Ahenakew said.

Along with heart, volunteer Jessica Iron-Joseph and her husband Kevin Joseph are propelled by the need in their community, and they also stress the fact that the need is year-round.

On Monday they were in charge of wrapping and handing out gifts, but during the year they spend time serving food up front and stocking it in the back.

“People tend to come for Christmas and obviously that’s great too, but there are a lot of volunteers here looking for something to do.” Joseph said.

“For most of the year that’s when they need them--not just one day of the year.”

Iron-Joseph said that she wishes every day at the Food Bank could look like this one.

The two brought their 13-year-old son Ronin for the first time this year to show him that volunteering is a necessary part of anyone’s life, and not just at Christmas.

“We wanted to show him that this is just what you do--just because.” Iron-Joseph said.

Organizations: Meal Food Bank, Northern Lights Casino

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