Good food and good company at the Revelstoke Community Christmas dinner

By Laura Stovel

Ginger Shoji and Matt Singh were bustling around The Old Frontier Christmas morning guiding a cheery group of volunteers as they chopped onions, carved turkey and ham and mashed sweet potatoes in preparation for the Revelstoke Community Christmas dinner.

“It’s a very lonely time of the year for many people, “ Shoji said, “and that’s what this is all about. There are hundreds of reasons why people are alone at Christmas, people of all income levels.”

This is a chance for people to gather together in fellowship, she said.

Volunteers prepare meals and goodie bags with donations from local businesses, service groups and individuals.  13 people who can’t make the dinner will have two meals each delivered to them, one for Christmas and one for later on, Shoji said.

The Community Christmas Dnner tradition started 16 years ago when Shoji, Tuulikki Tennant and United Church minister Harvey Barker thought they should do something for people who were alone at Christmas. The dinner has grown from serving 26 people the first year to serving up to 200 in other years. Impressively, Shoji has coordinated the event from its inception.  Many volunteers are also loyal to the tradition. Although there were some first-time volunteers, they seemed to be in the minority. Most of those in and around the kitchen have come for years.

Frontier restaurant owner Matt Singh has donated the restaurant facilities for the past eight years.  “I just love doing it,” hesaid. “It’s a great way to spend Christmas and it’s nice to give back to the community and make people happy.”

The Frontier restaurant has been temporarily closed but Singh said that it will reopen soon, most likely in February. The restaurant will probably have a new menu when it reopens. The Frontier has been open the last few days and will stay open until January 4, Singh said.

Here are some scenes from this lovely community event:

Volunteers Marg Stovel and Susan Tippe with dinner organizer Ginger Shoji at the Frontier Restaurant. Laura Stovel photo
Frontier owner Matt Singh inspects a roasted turkey. Laura Stovel photo
Elvin Jack and Colleen Morisson, both three-year volunteers, stuff candy into goodie bags. Laura Stovel photo
Gwynne and Geoff Battersby, also long-time volunteers, prepare the turkey. Laura Stovel photo
City councilor Antoinette Halberstadt prepares a delicious sweet potato pie. Laura Stovel photo
Ariadne Sassafrass is busy chopping onions. Laura Stovel photo
Tekla Marrone is another long-time volunteer. Laura Stovel photo
Paul Mazurikiewicz prepares Bussels sprouts. Laura Stovel photo
Doug Hamilton greets guests at the door. Laura Stovel photo
Diners (left to right) Cecilia Roebuck, Jackie Heppell and her friend, Myrna, enjoy a tasty meal. Laura Stovel photo
Diners line up for a buffet under the chuckwagon cover. Laura Stovel photo