The Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner will have a “stay at home” theme for 2020.
After much deliberation, organizers have decided to restrict the dinner to a delivery service. The meal will be distributed to homes across the Comox Valley on Christmas Day.
“We had planned on trying to arrange for the maximum 50 people seated for dinner, but after talking to Island Health and the City of Courtenay… with the new spacing regulations, we would have to use the entire (Florence Filberg Centre) hall just to seat 50 people,” said co-ordinator, Rob James. “And there are so many other things involved. So we decided the best thing to do would be not to do the seated dinners at all, but instead, we will be delivering all the 500-plus meals.”
James has been in contact with the different housing societies and social services in the Comox Valley, and is in the process of arranging deliveries to all the different locations (i.e. Washington Inn Apartments, Maple Pool, The Junction). He has also been working with Salvation Army Family Services to ensure every family that wants delivery of a Christmas dinner is included.
“We are expecting up to 200 of those individual deliveries as well, so we are definitely going to have more than 500 total dinners to be delivered on Christmas Day,” said James. “There are people who would not normally come to the hall … crowds aren’t their thing… who are wanting delivery, so we will be reaching a bigger audience than usual.”
James said there have been challenges to adapt but it was important to keep Earl Naswell’s legacy alive.
“The dinner has always been a challenge, but we had it to a point where it ran really smoothly, but now this is like a whole new challenge. It’s like we are starting from square one again, but we really want to get out there and make sure everyone is taken care of.”
As for volunteers, he said the kitchen duties are likely taken care of, but drivers will be in high demand.
“The one thing we could really use is someone with something like a cargo van, that can carry 100 or more paper shopping bags, because there are a couple of very large deliveries to do,” he said. “The Washington Inn, for example… that would take three or four minivans, so it would be nice if we had somebody volunteer something like a cargo van, that would be great.
“And we will need a lot of single drivers as well.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer, particularly as drivers, can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call James directly, at 250-702-3896.
“If people could do one or two trips, that would be great,” said James.
Anyone wanting to register for delivery of a Christmas dinner can do so by contacting the Salvation Army Cornerstone Community Family Services at 250-338-5133 (468 29 St., Courtenay) or by emailing email@example.com, with name, phone number, address and number of family members to be fed.
In addition to requests for delivery, and volunteers offering to help, James said there have been numerous offers of monetary donations to the cause, on Earl Naswell’s behalf. (Earl passed away Oct. 6.)
“If someone did want to make a donation on his behalf, they can e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org,” said James.