Free Christmas Day meal provided in Woodstock

Eric McCarthy
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WOODSTOCK -- There will be turkey and all the fixings on the buffet table at St. Anthony’s Parish Hall in Woodstock Christmas afternoon. There will also be ham, homemade beans and salt ling.

John Hagen, from left, Clarence Perry, Preston Murphy and Jean Hagen will be among the 15 to 20 volunteers cooking up and serving Christmas dinner for anyone who drops by at St. Anthony’s Hall in Bloomfield Christmas afternoon. There’s even ling on the menu.

It’s all part of the third annual Christmas Dinner Preston Murphy of Alma and a host of volunteers are preparing for anyone who wants to attend.

“It’s just something I wanted to do all my life to help people out,” Murphy said of the first such meal he organized two years ago.

“It’s nice to see the look on people’s faces, enjoying themselves,” he said in explaining the joy the exercise brings to him.

Around 85 people have attended each year, so far, but Murphy said they area always prepared for more.

Clarence Perry is enthusiastic to be involved in helping to host the dinner again this year. He learned about it last year and immediately jumped on board as it was reminiscent of the 21 Christmases he spent helping to provide meals with the Good Shepherd Ministry in Toronto.

Murphy expects 15 to 20 volunteers will help prepare and provide the Christmas meal. Those include John and Jean Hagen. “We decided this is something we’d like to do,” said John, noting he and his wife haven’t had family home to prepare a meal with in recent years, so they help prepare for those who show up for the meal at St. Anthony’s instead.

“You get a lot in return,” he said in describing the joy they get from being involved.

“It’s a real social,” added Jean.

Murphy said several people have offered to cook turkeys and other parts of the meal at home and bring it to the hall. He will cook the ling and the beans at home. 

There is no cost for the meal and everyone is welcome. Reservations are not required. The meal will be available from 12 noon until 3 p.m. and entertainment will be provided between 12:30 and 4 p.m.

Anyone who would like to attend but doesn’t have a way can call Preston at 856-0107 or Clarence at 853-7025 and someone will pick them up and drop them off. Individuals can also call either of those numbers to arrange to have meals delivered. 

Organizations: Good Shepherd Ministry

Geographic location: Woodstock, Toronto, St. Anthony

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  • Vanessa
    December 21, 2013 - 07:25

    I am always amazed at the kindness and generosity of the people in west prince. I grew up in the Brae and it even though I have been living away for 18 years, it is still home. People still stop to talk in the grocery store, ask about the whole family, pull to the other side of the road when you are walking, and never make you feel like an outsider. Everyone is always willing to help everyone out, that is why it will always be home. You are amazing people to be organizing such a wonderful meal and live entertainment. The people of West Prince are blessed!!