Christmas Eve in London saw plenty of sunshine and lots of heart-warming stories, from a local restaurant owner cooking his own recipes for community members in need, to the Salvation Army providing hampers and toys to thousands of families.
Feeding the community one meal at a time
Chef Brad Heslop dished up close to 250 delicious meals inside his restaurant’s kitchen the morning of Christmas Eve.
The owner of the Early Riser Cafe cooked honey-glazed ham with a roasted pineapple ring, cheddar-bacon-garlic mashed potatoes and an assortment of veggies for community members in London in need of a warm, home-cooked meal.
This isn’t the first time Heslop has fed community members during holidays.
On Thanksgiving, the chef and a few friends delivered 90 homemade meals. Heslop did the same thing last Thanksgiving and Christmas, too.
“We did about 90 meals. Today, we’re on track to do around 230 to 240.
“I think it’s important to [give back] throughout the year.”
For Heslop, it’s the community’s responsibility to give back and help out one another.
“This time of year, it’s really hard when people are alone or can’t afford meals for their families,” he said.
“As a restaurant, we have the access to food that a lot of people don’t, so I think it’s important to give back.”
The chef and owner says he’s received a bunch of heartwarming reactions when he shows up at people’s doors with a meal in his hand.
“I’m getting a lot of positive feedback, and a couple of homemade cards from the kids of the families we’ve delivered too,” he said. “It’s really sweet.
“I got quite a few teary calls, and there’s quite a few hugs are the door… it’s awesome.”
Heslop predicts the next big community meal delivery day would be Easter, but he says he’s currently aiming for something bigger.
“We’re working with a couple of agencies to hopefully do something more on a regular basis,” he said. “Maybe sponsor a family or two a month.”
Free hampers, free toys, lots of hope
Perhaps it was a Christmas miracle, or just a show of community support, but the Salvation Army says its Christmas Kettle Campaign surpassed its goal for the year by nearly $75,000.
As of Christmas Eve morning, officials said they’ve collected more than $624,000.
Their goal was $550,000 and just a week ago, they were $168,000 behind.
“People stepped up, and they are so generous,” said spokesperson Shannon Wise on the Craig Needles Show.
“I think it really speaks to the sense of community we all feel in London.”
Money raised through the Kettle Campaign goes to support several year-round services provided by the Salvation Army, including emergency disaster relief services and the food bank.
Funds raised also go toward the Christmas Hamper program, which wrapped up prior to Christmas Eve.
“Over five days, we provided food hampers to over 4,400 households right here in London — that’s an astronomical amount,” said Wise.
“And also toys for over 6,700 local children.”
Donations for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign will be collected until the evening of Christmas Eve.