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Community Christmas dinner invites all, fights holiday loneliness in Vernon

Click to play video: 'Vernon community Christmas dinner aims to stave off loneliness' Vernon community Christmas dinner aims to stave off loneliness
Watch: Hundreds are expected to attend a free community Christmas Day dinner in Vernon. Volunteers hope the event prevents anyone from being lonely on Christmas. – Dec 24, 2018

For many, the holidays are about gathering with friends and family, but some have no one to spend Christmas with.

That’s where a community dinner in Vernon comes in.

The free “Together for Christmas” Christmas Day dinner, where everyone is welcome, aims to prevent loneliness.

“Our main focus is that no one is alone for Christmas,” said organizing committee member Jae McDermott.

“Everybody and anybody is welcome.”

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It’s the 10th year volunteers have put together the free community dinner, and they’re ready to serve a crowd with 300 pounds of turkey, 12 hams, 250 pounds of potatoes and 150 pounds of carrots.

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Along with the food, organizers have arranged door prizes, crafts, music and table games for their guests.

WATCH: How one man is bringing a holiday lesson from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia

Click to play video: 'No one dines alone: How one man is bringing a holiday lesson from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia' No one dines alone: How one man is bringing a holiday lesson from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia
No one dines alone: How one man is bringing a holiday lesson from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia – Dec 24, 2018
“[The guests] are very, very thankful, but they have no idea just how much of a gift it is that they are giving to us by being here,” said founder Ron Birch.

“All we are doing is doing something that we love doing. The fact that they are so thankful for what we have done is just a special feeling.”

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Birch cooked up the idea of community Christmas dinner with a friend a decade ago.

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Last year, they served 375 people. Birch said that it’s bittersweet to see the project still going strong.

“It feels good, but it is also a bit scary to know that it is still needed 10 years later,” Birch said.

“It seems to be growing, so my concern is is that there is a lot of lonely people. We are finding that you can be a whole family and you are lonely, because you have other members that can’t make it [for Christmas].”

If you don’t drive, free rides and dinner delivery are available.

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Festivities run from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Christmas Day at St. James School in Vernon with dinner served at 4 p.m.

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Anyone looking to sign up for transportation or dinner delivery can call Jae at 250-308-9973.

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