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Christmas dinner planned for the entire community

No one in Fort Macleod is going to go without a Christmas dinner this year thanks to the Community Christmas Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 18 at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.
From 3-7 p.m. staff of Synergy Land Services along with other volunteers from the community will be serving a classic Christmas dinner — turkey with all the trimmings, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, buns, coffee, tea or juice, and apple or pumpkin pie for dessert.
Rumor has it that Santa will be putting in an appearance.
The idea to host the dinner originally began when the staff of Synergy Land Services Fort Macleod Branch were discussing ways to give back to the community around the holiday season — in particular to return the support received by the St. Michael-Anderson family after their house fire in 2009. Brock Anderson is branch manager of Synergy Land Services, and Michelle St. Michael is office manager.
While Synergy staff were tossing ideas around, someone suggested a community Christmas dinner, and the idea quickly — well, let’s just say caught fire.
Others in the community heard about the project and volunteered to help out, and a number of people and businesses offered financial support.
The project gained real momentum when Bev and Henry Hagen heard about it. For years the Hagens used to provide a free dinner on Christmas day when they owned the Westerner Restaurant.
“We were always excited to prepare the Christmas dinner. It was something we always wanted to do,” Bev Hagen said. “It gave single people, small families, seniors, anyone who was not cooking turkey Christmas Day some place to have company, friendship, turkey, Christmas pudding . . . Even university students who didn’t have enough time off school to go home joined us. It just depended on the weather how many joined us.”
It’s been five years since the Hagens last hosted such an event, and they always wondered if someone else was going to pick up the torch. They quickly offered their services when they heard about what Synergy Land wanted to do.
“So many people wondered if someone else was going to take it over, us included,” Hagen said. “That never happened until this year, and we are excited to do it again, thanks to the staff at Synergy Land.”
The whole community is invited out to the Community Christmas Celebration, said Tanis Gray, on staff at Synergy Land.
“No invitation is necessary, and everyone is welcome,” Gray said. “We are providing this event to ensure that no one goes without the opportunity to enjoy a Christmas meal.”
Gray praised the support the community has shown in backing the Christmas dinner.
“Along with the Hagens’ support, we have also had a tremendous amount of support from businesses and individuals in the community,” Gray said. “We have had an overwhelming response from local businesses as well as individuals in donations for this event. Our donations have ranged from cash and food to decorations and volunteer hours. Without the enthusiasm of the community, an event like this wouldn’t be possible.”
Organizers are aiming to provide around 300 meals.
“We will serve from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. while quantities last,” Gray said.  
Any money left over from the project will go to Kids First Family Centre.

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