Bev Elder, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank; organizer Catriona McHattie; Mrs. Claus (Alice Howes); Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith; Carey Salvador, marketing coordinator with the Mary Winspear Centre; Denny Warner, executive director of the Mary Winspear Centre; and Maggie Calder, client services with Mary Winspear Centre, stand outside the centre’s banquet hall, which will host the Christmas Community Dinner Dec. 25. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Bev Elder, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank; organizer Catriona McHattie; Mrs. Claus (Alice Howes); Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith; Carey Salvador, marketing coordinator with the Mary Winspear Centre; Denny Warner, executive director of the Mary Winspear Centre; and Maggie Calder, client services with Mary Winspear Centre, stand outside the centre’s banquet hall, which will host the Christmas Community Dinner Dec. 25. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney’s Community Christmas Dinner serves up holiday cheer

Popular event returns to Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre after two-year hiatus

A Christmas meal for individuals alone on Christmas Day returns to Sidney with registration opening on Nov. 24.

The annual Community Christmas Dinner will take place at the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 25 with two sittings — the first at 11:30 a.m. with an 11 a.m. arrival, the second at 1:30 p.m. with a 1 p.m. arrival.

The familiar event — which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019 before COVID-19 forced its cancellations in 2020 and 2021 — serves up a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings with Save-On-Foods, Thrifty Foods and Fairway Market contributing the food. Individuals can register preferably by emailing catmch67@gmail.com or by calling 250-652-2914.

A fixture of the local Christmas calendar, it brings together people of different backgrounds, but often local seniors, who find themselves alone on Christmas Day.

The event also has a new organizer, Catriona McHattie, whom the previous organizers had approached in the past to handle the event.

“The people who used to organize it have all aged out and have passed it to me to organize it for them,” she said. “It should hopefully be almost identical to every other Christmas dinner that they had.”

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McHattie — who owned an events company and serves as president of the North and South Saanich Agricultural Society — has been involved in the community for over 30 years. “I know a lot of these seniors, so I really have a kind of personal attachment to them,” she said.

The Christmas period but especially Christmas Day itself can be a lonely time. “Studies have shown that people are more depressed when alone at Christmas,” she said.

The dinner helps to boost mental health. “And Christmas is about giving, and not receiving, and we should give back to our community because that is what makes our community strong.”

This support is also evident from the contributions the event receives from local grocery stores. “There has been a huge outpouring of support from the business community to help this start back up again and make this event successful,” McHattie noted.

Plans call for no more than 175 individuals per sitting.

“I won’t know about the demand for the dinner until Nov. 24, but I have already had quite a few people try to sign up for it early,” said “So based on that, I would say that there is high demand for it.”


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