Christmas Day lunch open to community

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Alexandra’s Community Christmas Day Barbecue Lunch is set to return, due to popular demand.

The event was first hosted in 2015, when it attracted about 60 people. The following year there were 100 and last year 140.

St Enoch’s parish minister Reverend Andrew Howley invites anyone who will be on their own or struggling on Christmas Day to register and join in.

That included those without family, seasonal workers, backpackers, holidaymakers and anyone else who would like to see a friendly face at Christmas time.

Rev Howley said about five years ago he and a couple of friends faced the prospect of Christmas Day alone, so they decided to organise an event for themselves and others in the same situation.

He said there had previously been a community Christmas dinner, which ran for about 12 years, but that was no longer being held.

“We put it together rather quickly in three weeks and my church hosted it,” he said.

Since then, the lunch has been held on the lawn between St Enoch’s Church and the Alexandra Community House.

The Alexandra Rotary Club helps with funding.

Rev Howley said the organisers would be grateful to receive donations of money or food.

“Last year we had three hams donated,” he said.

“We are planning for 100 meals and last year we had 140 people attend and that was a record.

“We encourage anyone planning to come, to book.”

He was also looking for volunteers to help with preparation, serving and tidying up afterwards.

The meal would include a barbecue lunch and dessert.

“We try to have some of the Christmas trimmings like ham and pavlova.

“Last year we had quite a few older members of the community who were on their own, and we had a lot of international fruit pickers who enjoyed being able to hear stories of Alexandra and its history.”

He said the event was shifted indoors on one occasion due to rain, just in time for dessert.

“People started mixing more and they started singing.

“Most people are happy to chat.”

The Ranfurly, Teviot Valley and Cromwell iSites said no Christmas day community lunches were planned in their areas, as far as they were aware.

The lunch will start at noon on December 25. To register, volunteer or donate, phone 4487771 or go online to alexchurch.org.nz/christmas

YVONNE O’HARA

@alliedpress.co.nz