Making sure everyone has a warm and cheery place to enjoy Christmas dinner with all the trimmings is a key motivation behind the Bethel Christian Reformed Church’s annual Christmas Day event at the LMC.
Doors open at 11:30 a.m. with dinner to be served at 12:30 p.m.
All are welcome, and there is no charge to attend.
The history of the event, which has attracted up to 350 guests, stretches back quite a few years - even prior to Bethel’s involvement with it, explained the event’s coordinators Pete and Cora Hoekstra.
In those early years, the Hoekstras volunteered at the dinner which at the time was under different leadership in the community.
Then the opportunity came along to take the reins, and the couple decided to do just that.
“We just thought it’s also a natural fit for our church — acknowledging Christmas in this way, and the real meaning of it,” said Pete, adding that also providing a place to go on Christmas Day was and is essential to that vision as well.
“It’s one of those things that brings people together,” he added.
“I also look forward to getting together with the volunteers to help — community people and neighbours all get together to help out. Everyone knows why they are there and they are sold on it. They roll up their sleeves, the work gets done and you see people having fun,” he said.
“When it all comes together, it’s a beautiful thing.”
The Hoekstras absolutely love all aspects of the event, but they are hoping to bring new folks onboard to help with coordinating it as they may be stepping aside down the road.
“We have been involved with it a long, long time. So we have been wanting to involve more people in the leadership of it — that has been our goal this year,” said Cora. “We are always looking at mentoring people.
“I’ve also already got quite a number of volunteers, and they are from a variety of groups in our city. So that part is really neat — we draw on a whole bunch of people who are interested in spending Christmas at an event in their community.”
And while everyone is welcome, the goal is to provide a place for those who are potentially alone or with one of two others on Christmas Day, and who really want that feeling of a traditional Christmas dinner, she said.
“That’s the point of this event. You get all the trimmings, enjoy some carols, and potentially some door prizes. People are thrilled with all of those little perks. It’s a pretty wonderful event.”
“You can see the joy of people being able to gather,” she said.
“For me, the time that I experience the most joy is when half of the people have their food, the other half are waiting, and you are hearing carols in the building, and people are visiting. That’s when I experience joy and think, this is the best thing ever,” she said.
Ultimately, Cora said the event’s success as a whole is a testament to Lacombe’s volunteering spirit and the generous nature of the community at large.
“Our city has some really neat programs that are just due to the initiative of one or two people as a starting point,” she explained. “It’s like this dinner — it was two couples who said we are going to start doing this, and it has evolved to this point.”
Ultimately, it boils down to great teamwork, too.
“We sure appreciate the team that we are a part of,” she said. “And if someone says this is what they would like to do on Christmas Day on a regular basis, we would love to hear from them.”
Cora also mentioned that support for the event in terms of sponsorship is also always welcome.
For more information about the event or about how to support it, call 403-782-6400.
“It’s really, really appreciated.”