More than 1,400 people turned out to share in a meal and the holiday spirit at the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas dinner in Vancouver on Tuesday.
The event took place at the organization’s Harbour Light location on East Cordova in the Downtown Eastside.
Executive director Jim Coggles said an army of more than 140 volunteers had spent days prepping the meal.
“It’s a full-course Christmas dinner, so we’ve got 120 turkeys, so almost 750 pounds of turkey we’re prepared to serve,” he said.
Coggles said while the Salvation Army has worked in the Downtown Eastside, day in and out for 65 years, the annual Christmas dinner is always a highlight for both volunteers and clients.
“For many people here today, if not most of them, this will be the only hot meal that they’ll receive today. And while many of us are out with family and friends over the holidays, our friends here — this will be their holiday celebration,” he said.
“So it’s our aim to make it as enjoyable and as wonderful an experience as we can.”
Volunteer Bernie Loree said he had helped with the dinner for 20 years.
“I’ve been really blessed and I have everything I need in my life,” he said.
“A day at a time as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that there’s a lot of people who are less fortunate and need help, and I’ve learned there’s always something I can do to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
All told, the Salvation Army said it served up 500 kilograms of turkey, 76 litres of cranberry sauce, 123 kilograms of mixed vegetables, 80 gallons of gravy to cover a mountain of mashed potatoes and stuffing made from 133 loaves of bread.