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Strong support needed for annual Fort Macleod Community Christmas Dinner

christmas dinner

The annual Community Christmas Dinner is from 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.

Every year at this time, the Fort Macleod community gets together for dinner.
The Masonic Lodge takes the lead in organizing the annual Community Christmas Dinner, but it is a true community effort.
“If it wasn’t for all the businesses that have donated and the volunteers who help us, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Mason Ken Hann said.
The annual Community Christmas Dinner is Saturday, Dec. 10 from 4-7 p.m. at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.
A free turkey dinner with all the trimmings is served to everyone, with crafts for children, musical entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus adding to the fun.
This is the fourth year the Masons will organize the dinner at the community hall, after taking it over from the staff at Synergy Land Services.
The Masons fed about 450 people the first year, and that number climbed to 525 in 2014 and 550 in 2015.
“The community supper would not have continued if Bev and Henry Hagen hadn’t pitched the idea to us,” Mason Dave Gregory said.
The Hagens for years served a free Christmas dinner when they owned the Westerner Restaurant to ensure that people who might not otherwise have a festive meal would enjoy one.
“The continuation of it really is due to Bev and Henry,” Gregory said. “We just embraced their philosophy.”
That philosophy also seems to appeal to the community, with a growing number of people joining the Masons for supper each year.
“I think it’s an opportunity for individuals to simply get together,” Gregory said. “When Henry and Bev pitched it to us, that was one of the major aspects that appealed to us.”
Staging a dinner for that many people is no small undertaking.
Henry and Bev Hagen and their kitchen volunteers will cook 11 turkeys, each weighing 28 to 30 pounds.
Two hundred pounds of potatoes are required, along with 75 pounds of vegetables and 40 dozen dinner buns.
For dessert, there is four big pails of ice cream topped with the contents of 10 five-pound containers of strawberries.
Children can get their faces painted, try their hand at crafts, or pose for photographs with Santa Claus.
New this year is a performance by the F.P. Walshe school concert band from 5:30-6 p.m.
An interesting development is that many people who enjoy the free dinner then volunteer their time to serve it to other people.
“Our volunteer base has increased from the first two years because of that,” Hann said. “they’re asking to volunteer and be part of it.”
The Masons will accept donations of non-perishable food items and toys for the Salvation Army Christmas hamper program.
Volunteers are always needed to undertake tasks such as ushering people to tables, serving dinners and helping at the craft tables.
Donations of cash and food supplies are also welcome.
“There is still room for volunteers and donations,” Mason Brian Reach said.
Volunteers will be deployed in shifts, with the first batch working from 3:45-5:45 p.m. and the second one coming in from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
To volunteer or contribute to the dinner, contact Brian Reach at 403-634-2205, 403-553-4731 or reachbrian@shaw.ca or Dave Gregory at 403-553-3078.

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