Community Christmas dinners will add some extra cheer across Central Otago this festive season.
Dinners are planned for orchard workers, couples, families and people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas day.
In Alexandra, a community barbecue lunch will take place in the grounds of St Enoch’s Church from noon on Christmas Day.
The event, which is into its sixth year, is made possible by the ‘‘many’’ volunteers who spend countless hours preparing the event and taking part on the day.
Alexandra Clyde Lauder Union Parish minister Rev Andrew Howley said the event would be a seated barbecue lunch, either outdoors or inside, depending on the weather.
‘‘It’s just a really good, positive community vibe and we are very clear that everyone is a volunteer because the people that are attending are bringing something as well — just by being there.’’
While all popular aspects of the day would return, including festive barbecue fare with all the trimmings, this year would be different — mainly due to Covid-19, he said.
‘‘The usual make-up is we usually have 1/3 from overseas [who are] fruit pickers.
‘‘Those people aren’t around the same this year and some locals are doing it a bit tougher this year, so we might have more of them around.’’
No matter what people’s reasons were for wanting to join in the festivities, they would be more than welcome, he said.
Organisers expect anywhere between 120 to 140 guests on the day, including the many volunteers.
The Rotary Club of Alexandra were among those who had helped make the event possible, thanks to providing core funding for the event, Rev Howley said.
Organisers will also provide a Christmas meal delivery service to people, or transport to those who want to attend but cannot get themselves there.
St Ninian’s Presbyterian Church will also host a Christmas dinner at the Lake Hawea Community Centre.
The event, which is a first for the church, will start at noon and is open to anyone who wants to attend, either to join in the festivities or volunteer on the day.
Church minister Aaron Johnstone expects the event to attract a combination of people, including those who do not have plans but want to connect with others in the community, and people who do not have family around.
The church had previously hosted a get-together for skifield workers, but due to Covid-19, that event did not happen this year.
‘‘We were thinking, what can we do this year for people who are around and for people with financial needs, particularly around Christmas time.’’
The event will provide people with good food and company and plenty of space for children to run around.
– To register for the Alexandra event phone (03) 448-7771 or for the Lake Hawea event phone (027) 3106-489.