Room for all at the Christmas table

Getting into the Christmas spirit, with a little help from the friendly folk at  Farmers, are Dunedin Council of Social Services executive officer Alan Shanks (back right) and Dunedin  Community Christmas Dinner organisers Grant and Anne Hardy. Photo by B
Getting into the Christmas spirit, with a little help from the friendly folk at Farmers, are Dunedin Council of Social Services executive officer Alan Shanks (back right) and Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner organisers Grant and Anne Hardy. Photo by Brenda Harwood

The hugely successful Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner will be held in Dunedin Town Hall for the second year running.

The long-standing Christmas Day event, which had been run for many years by the Rev David Brown and his wife Jean, was taken over last year by Grant and Anne Hardy, of the Acts of Kindness Charitable Trust.

That change also marked a change in venue to the Dunedin Town Hall and greater capacity for the event.

The event last year provided a Christmas meal, good company and entertainment to 530 guests, including families in need and people who were alone at Christmas, Mr Hardy said.

Several cruise ship passengers were also invited to join in the occasion, after being found wandering and ''looking lost'' in the Octagon, he said.

''They were blown away by the hospitality - it really touched them.''

Putting on the meal and the social occasion surrounding it had involved more than 100 volunteers, from table hosts to kitchen staff and servers. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull also took part in the day.

''It was a truly wonderful day - the atmosphere was very loving,'' Mrs Hardy said.

''And that is what Christmas Day is all about - people getting together and enjoying each other's company.''

The majority of volunteers were returning for this year's Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner, although there were some spaces available for experienced kitchen staff and waiters, Mrs Hardy said.

The majority of the food would be donated again this year, and the Dunedin Venues Compass Catering team, led by John Snowball, would be volunteering its time to cook the food.

Other Dunedin businesses were also back on board to support the event, including Havoc Pork, Ernest Adams and Cowells Pavlova.

''The response has been wonderful, from across the community - there is a great spirit in Dunedin,'' Mrs Hardy said.

''It is very encouraging to see people genuinely caring and giving.''

It was hoped to have Norma, the Dunedin Town Hall organ, available to provide music for the Christmas dinner, and local musician Peter Kesha would also accompany singers on the piano.

Mr and Mrs Hardy are on the lookout for any other performers who may like to be involved in the Christmas Day event. And goods for spot prizes and children's toys would also be welcome.

Spaces are still available for people who would like to be among the guests at the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner. The event will start at 11.30am and continue until about 2.30pm.

The Dunedin Council of Social Services (DCOSS) is supporting the event by taking registrations. If you would like to be a guest, visit the DCOSS website cossd.org.nz or phone 471-6150.

- by Brenda Harwood 

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