Prince Albert notches its biggest ever Christmas Day Community Dinner

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Carol Thorpe dishes out some stuffing at the Christmas Day Community Dinner. 

Reflecting on Prince Albert’s biggest-ever Christmas Day Community Dinner, volunteer John Dorion said that there was a record number of both attendees and volunteers.

 

“They come there and they just go to work,” he said of the large contingency of volunteers. “Sometimes you don’t even have to tell them what to do -- they just find something to do and they do it.

“If you can get a group like that together, you can do anything.”

Click HERE for the Daily Herald's initial story on the Christmas Day Community Dinner.

What the volunteers were able to accomplish is staggering, and included the delivery of 890 plates of dinner to people’s homes -- an effort that kept a fleet of delivery drivers “very busy” throughout the afternoon.

Although they didn’t hold an official count, there were well more than 2,000 people helped this year, Dorion said, noting that last year’s event hovered around the 2,000 mark.

St. Mary High School was busting throughout Christmas Day afternoon, he said, noting that everyone left the building full, and that children also left with a gift and a bag of treats.

Despite a record attendance, there was enough donated food to make it through the day, Dorion said, noting that what little leftovers there were went home with attendees.

“We had a lot of help, and you could sure tell,” Dorion said, adding that volunteers began organizing the event in October -- an effort that picked up significantly in recent weeks.

If you can get a group like that together, you can do anything. John Dorion

Anticipating about 30 volunteers on Christmas Eve, organizers’ expectations were blown away, with “well more than 30” helping prepare for the big day.

“They made posters for us, they helped set up the candy and the toy room,” Dorion said, noting that food preparation also took place on Christmas Eve.

“They just took over and they did a super job.”

Growing up in Cumberland House, Dorion said that the massive community effort reminds him a lot of his childhood -- most notably two principles.

One of these principles is “Kitimahkenimitowin,” he said -- a Cree word that means to be “based in kindness -- on the values of kindness and caring for mankind,” he relayed.

“In (my childhood) days, many of us lived in poverty, so that’s how people survived. They helped each other -- nobody was left (out) … If you needed help, someone in the community was there to help.”

The second principle is “Mamawi-wicihitowin” -- a belief that it takes a community to raise a child.

“That’s what was going on there,” Dorion said of the Christmas Day Community Dinner. “Those volunteers are just incredible.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Mary High School, Cumberland House

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