Christmas Day dinner hope

After five years of hosting a free community Christmas Day dinner, the Orwell Street Church in Oamaru is hoping to once again share a bit of Yuletide cheer with local residents this year.

Organiser Tony Dudley said about 70 people attended The Big Feed in Orwell St last year, and this year's event, which will be held at the church from 12.30pm on Christmas Day, would be welcomed more than ever by many sections of the community.

He had anecdotal evidence many people were struggling financially this year, and he hoped the free event would help take the "sting" out of Christmas for them, Mr Dudley said.

"Things are pretty tight for a lot of people out there."

However, the event was open to all members of the community, he said.

"We are trying to make it as wide as possible, with no strings attached.

"It is important to keep it wide open because often the people who need to come are a bit too embarrassed to come. We want as many people as possible to come, whether they can afford it or not.

"There is a pretty wide cross section of people that come. It's right across the board ...

"We have some regulars that have almost become kind of part of the family and we expect the same ones to come along, and that's really great they feel like they belong."

Volunteers to help cook the traditional turkey and ham, and donations of food, would be welcome, Mr Dudley said.

"We are looking for the community to get in behind us and support us again this year."

Entry was free, but it was recommended people wishing to attend contact the church to give an idea of how many people needed to be catered for, he said.