PHOTOS: Holiday joy abounds at 20th annual Sidney Community Christmas Dinner

Vern England has been Santa Claus for the Sidney Community Christmas dinner for the last five years. He says his favourite part of the seasonal job is bringing smiles to little ones. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Vern England has been Santa Claus for the Sidney Community Christmas dinner for the last five years. He says his favourite part of the seasonal job is bringing smiles to little ones. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Makayla Paul-Belcourt, 3, sits with Santa Claus (Vern England) at the Sidney Community Christmas Dinner Dec. 25. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Makayla Paul-Belcourt, 3, sits with Santa Claus (Vern England) at the Sidney Community Christmas Dinner Dec. 25. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and holiday tunes by local musicians. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and holiday tunes by local musicians. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Lloid and Ronald Harry enjoyed a Christmas lunch with family and friends at the Mary Winspear Centre Dec. 25 during the 20th annual Sidney Community Christmas Dinner. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Lloid and Ronald Harry enjoyed a Christmas lunch with family and friends at the Mary Winspear Centre Dec. 25 during the 20th annual Sidney Community Christmas Dinner. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ghandi Clandfield and Alyssa Richards donned their best green and red for the 20th annual Sidney Community Christmas Dinner at the Mary Winspear Centre Dec. 25 (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Ghandi Clandfield and Alyssa Richards donned their best green and red for the 20th annual Sidney Community Christmas Dinner at the Mary Winspear Centre Dec. 25 (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)Hundreds came to the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 for a delicious helping of Christmas dinner and some holiday tunes by local musicians, including a ukulele group and the Sunshine Singers. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Smiling faces, full stomachs and holiday joy filled the Mary Winspear Centre on Christmas Day during the 20th annual Sidney Community Christmas Dinner.

Sidney residents and visitors alike were welcomed to the dinner of turkey with all the trimmings followed by dessert. Two sittings – one at 11:30 a.m. and one at 1:15 p.m. – fed more than 300 thanks to donations from Fairway Market, Save-on-Foods and Thrifty Foods in Sidney, among others.

“So many people come back year after year,” says volunteer coordinator Wendy Warshawski. “It’s like seeing old friends once a year for Christmas.”

RELATED: Sidney’s Community Christmas Dinner celebrates 20th anniversary this year

In 2001 Warshawski joined the task force that puts on the dinner. She says back then, the event was advertised as “a dinner for people who would otherwise be alone.”

That’s still true, she says, but the event also draws families, couples, and all kinds of people.

“Everybody has a story. Some of them are alone and they might feel awkward about coming to a dinner like this, but once they hear that [there is so many], they’re happy to come,” Warshawski says. “We get families, seniors [and] every age you could imagine. Sometimes it’s couples that just don’t want to cook a big turkey.”

The Vancouver Island Regional Library donated more than 400 Sidney/North Saanich branch library cards for this year’s attendees, and community donations of toys and stuffed animals delighted all ages.

Seated as they come in, tables are a mix of people, some filled with strangers. But with hearty meals, festive songs and visits from the event’s long-time Santa Claus, Vern England, the Mary Winspear Centre spent Christmas playing host to one big happy Yuletide family.

RELATED: Flurry of Yuletide activities coming to Sidney



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
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

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Greater Victoria teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

One year in, teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressure from families

Richard Pierce is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Unsung Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Navy veteran helping others cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

Rich Pearce is the West Shore 2021 Unsung Hero

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

The value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020 (Peninsula News Review)
Value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020

New figures also show 25 per cent increase in number of new secondary suites

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. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Most Read