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Community Christmas dinners reached out to all Thompsonites

This past holiday season there two Christmas dinners held in Thompson - one at the Thompson Homeless Shelter and one at St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Hall. The first one took place at the homeless shelter on Dec. 21.
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Darren Fulford, who works on housing issues for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Thompson branch, was busy Christmas Day as a volunteer cooking perogies at St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Hall for the community dinner.

This past holiday season there two Christmas dinners held in Thompson - one at the Thompson Homeless Shelter and one at St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Hall.

The first one took place at the homeless shelter on Dec. 21. Jason Stoltz, program co-ordinator at the shelter, says the Nelson House Medicine Lodge put on the dinner.

"The turnout was really good. There were probably about 30 to 40 people that came," he explains. "We do have a lot of clients from Nelson House that use the shelter, due to the shortage of housing, so this was their way of giving back to the shelter and the clients that use the shelter."

He says the food was all pretty much prepared in Nelson House and brought to the Thompson Homeless Shelter, which allowed the group the use of their kitchen and the help of their staff members. Stoltz adds the clients really enjoyed the feast.

"It's really great. I mean, to see everybody come together and help out and what not it's really great to see and hear the feedback from the clients in regards to things like this."

A group of Thompsonites also came together to hold a Christmas dinner on Dec. 25 at the St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Hall on Juniper Drive. Dale Shantz, who has organized the event for the past 19 years (although it didn't run in 2008 due to a lack of volunteers), says it takes about 30 to 40 volunteers to make the event a success; this year, they had over 60 helping out with the dinner, which ran from 12-3 p.m.

Darren Fulford, one of the volunteers with the dinner, says around 220 people took part in the feast. They Greyhound franchise in Thompson helped by donating a bus which gave free rides to people who wished to attend.

Fulford says the amount of effort put in by the volunteers to ensure the event went off without a hitch was truly astounding.

"It was great. Everybody seemed happy and willing to go out of their way. The servers stayed right up there from when they started the feast to the end," he says. "We had some activities for the kids that came outit was really neat, they had kind of an icing and coloured it green, and they had little cones and made Christmas trees with the icing and put candies on them."

Fulford says the event, which will be happening again next year, is for everyone and anyone who would like to show up for good food and friendship - volunteers and donations are also always in high demand.