For nearly 20 years a group of volunteers has spent Christmas Day in the kitchen of the Mary Winspear Centre making sure turkeys are cooked, stuffing is seasoned and plates are full, welcoming the community to share in a meal.
Originally the idea was to provide a place for seniors spending Christmas alone, but the tradition has grown to include families from across the Peninsula.
“Anyone who wants to come,” says volunteer co-ordinator Wendy Warshawski. “I just love to see the people that are benefiting from it.”
Nineteen years ago, roughly 50 people came to a Christmas lunch held at the former Silver Threads seniors centre.
By the following year, the team had moved to Bodine Hall at the Mary Winspear Centre because of the “huge increase in attendance,” Warshawski says.
This year a team of 35 volunteers will tie on an apron and get down to work cooking a festive feast with all the trimmings thanks to donations from Fairway Market, Save-on-Foods and Thrifty Foods in Sidney.
Dessert is provided by Breadstuffs Deli and Bakery in Brentwood Bay and for those who may need transportation getting to the hall, members of the Lions Club will be on hand to get folks in, and home again.
Warshawski and her team start preparing for the event in September as the number of attendees continues to grow each year. Admission is by donation but no one will be turned away for lack of funds or space.
“We will make room,” she says. “Staff here will always throw up another table.”
Two scheduled sittings at 11:15 and 1:15 help to disperse the crowd and ensure Santa gets to visit with everyone.
And though the now 85-year-old Warshawski is at the helm of the whole production she is quick to extend the credit, to the local businesses who make the meal possible and to her dedicated chef, Clara Knight.
“Nobody is the boss,” she stresses. “We work as a team.”
To reserve a table call Wendy Warshawski at 250-656-7678.