25 Dec 2017

Feasts aplenty for Christmas Day

1:18 pm on 25 December 2017

Volunteers have spent days preparing a Christmas lunch for some of Auckland's neediest people.

Hundreds enjoy Christmas lunch at the Auckland City Mission.

Hundreds enjoy Christmas lunch at the Auckland City Mission. Photo: Nita Blake-Persen

Chefs at the Auckland City Mission will prepare 2000 chicken drumsticks, 300 kilograms of ham and 500 or 600 kilograms of assorted vegetables, which will be served at a community lunch.

Hundreds of people are already queuing in the line.

City Missioner Chris Farrelly said today's lunch caters to those in most desperate need, along with the sick and lonely but refugee families have also been invited along this year because many have no other support in New Zealand.

"They're quite disconnected and we invite them in to connect with Kiwis on Christmas Day and perhaps to understand for the first time what Christmas means ... because a lot have come from countries where Christmas is not acknowledged or celebrated as it is here."

Mr Farrelly said hundreds of volunteers worked hard to ensure the community lunch was a success and they were some of the happiest people all year because they enjoy the chance to bring some joy to the city's lonely and most needy.

"It's a real truism that in giving they receive and they really do see that the people they are serving on Christmas Day are the city's most needy and for those few hours they're like the rest of us and can really enjoy something special and if it wasn't for this they wouldn't be."

People who would like to volunteer to help out at the 2018 lunch should contact the City Mission early in the New Year.

Further south, the tables are set, the tree trimmed and the presents wrapped at Wellington's Aro Valley Community Centre for the 54th annual Room at the Inn lunch.

The original lunch was potatoes and sausages for locals who had nowhere else to go on Christmas Day, but now it includes a range of festive fare with all the trimmings, including turkey, ham, veggies and strawberries and cream.

Co-ordinator Lindy Pacey says a team of volunteers will be serving up about 170 meals and it's a celebration for everyone.

"People who are lonely, students travelling, people travelling, street kids and those in the community who need a little more."

"There's a huge mix [of guests] and also a huge mix of volunteers as well."

Lindy Pacey says another team of volunteer drivers will also take Christmas lunch from the hall out to the housebound who can't travel into town.

She says planning for the 55th Room at the Inn lunch will begin early in the new year, and anyone interested in volunteering should give her a call.

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