500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Ricky Sauer and John Henson enjoy a Christmas dinner at Cool Aid’s downtown Victoria community centre. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)Ricky Sauer and John Henson enjoy a Christmas dinner at Cool Aid’s downtown Victoria community centre. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff) About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff) About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff) About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Caroline George and her mother Ava enjoy their Christmas dinner together at Cool Aid’s community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff) Caroline George and her mother Ava enjoy their Christmas dinner together at Cool Aid’s community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Caroline George and her mother Ava enjoy their Christmas dinner together at Cool Aid’s community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff) Caroline George and her mother Ava enjoy their Christmas dinner together at Cool Aid’s community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff) About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff) About 500 pounds of turkey along with traditional Christmas sides were served at Cool Aid’s annual community Christmas dinner. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Hundreds of community members gathered at Cool Aid’s downtown Victoria community centre on Wednesday for a special holiday meal.

About 500 pounds of turkey alongside all of the traditional Christmas sides were prepared in Cool Aid kitchens for community members to enjoy and share with friends and family.

It was thanks to Sysco Foods, individual donors and many volunteers that this meal was possible.

“We couldn’t do this without the generosity of the community,” said Alan Rycroft, community relations manager with Cool Aid.

The holiday dinner is an annual event that used to be solely for Cool Aid tenants but has since been opened up to others, with about 300 individuals partaking in the dinner.

READ ALSO: Cool Aid Society saves affordable apartment from uncertain future

Rycroft said more people are seen indoors during the holidays due to the cold, wet weather. That means more people might be using Cool Aid’s shelter programs as well. The community centre, for example, converts into a night time shelter to accommodate extra people.

A warm meal that they can enjoy with community members can make all the difference at this time of year, according to Rycroft.

Lori Angelini, manager of philanthropy with Cool Aid, said donations from the community increase around the holidays because people recognize there is greater need for things like good food and holiday cheer.

“It’s overwhelming,” Angelini said.

With 19 locations, Cool Aid is able to bring Christmas dinners to each of the organization’s buildings thanks to generous donations.

“I think because a lot of our clients are very low income and either living in a bachelor or staying in a shelter, there aren’t many opportunities for a community gathering like this,” Angelini said. “So we put a call out so they can enjoy a meal with their family and friends.”

READ ALSO: Captured in time: Cool Aid unveils photos from its 50 years of history

Paul Stewart is a Red Seal chef who went from working in restaurants to working for Cool Aid. He was behind Thursday’s Christmas dinner and has been with the organization for almost three years. He also helps cook thousands of meals a week that are served by Cool Aid at its various locations.

“I typically came up through restaurants and catering and I always sort of felt like something was missing…you’re just basically cooking for people with a lot of money essentially,” Stewart said. “The rewards to me are greater now…this matters more to me. This has more of a human connection. They’re genuinely happy…this might be the only time they have a hot meal today.”

Cool Aid serves 980 meals every day and over 350,000 per year out of two commercial kitchens. About 12,000 clients are served by Cool Aid each year in the region.

In the coming years, the organization plans to increase local food purchases for meals, expand its commercial kitchen and add food-related social enterprises for some of its tenants.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Port Renfrew Fire Chief Dan Kuzman, left, and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks, separated by two fishing rods for safe pandemic physical distancing, display the village’s new snowplowing unit. (Contributed)
Port Renfrew gets new snowplow

With equipment, CRD crew can clear roads following snowfall

(Black Press Media file photo)
Court-registered sex offender arrested for breach of parole in Langford

Cameron Ratelle returned to correctional facility after female youth approached at bus stop

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth in police custody after kitchen knife call

A knife was recovered during the arrest, no injuries reported

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: Milne’s Landing CNR station

Elide Peers | Contributed Back in the 1920s, freight was often carried… Continue reading

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Most Read