Our community has once again proven what we already knew – that we are stronger when we work together. When Burlington is faced with adversity, we adapt and overcome. This year looked quite a bit different for everyone. Folks lost jobs, families lost loved ones and some of us became more isolated than ever. This Christmas Dinner was a light in all this year’s darkness. A unique opportunity to rally together and deliver a sense of hope. Hope that was often much more difficult to find in 2020.
Beginning as a conversation between Mary Dilly and Lisa Lunski (Wellington Square), finished as a Christmas Dinner that reached over 900 people with a warm meal and gifts for children. The dinner originally being held at East Plains Church, shifted to Wellington Square this year because of COVID-19 and collaborated with Wellington’s existing meal bag program infrastructure.
The dinner was a success because of the depth of support that was given. From volunteers who dedicated months of energy and time to deliver this program, community partners like the Burlington Food Bank, Food For Life, Open Doors and Next Door Social Space, Port Nelson United Church, Glad Tidings and friends amongst the community that did everything they could to help us deliver this safe, ‘pandemic proof’ Christmas dinner.
I hope to provide some insight into the amazing stories from behind the scenes of this dinner with you all, that gave me a sense of hope during these heavy days. Our volunteers are truly the foundation of this operation. We had over fifty committed volunteers who did above and beyond what we could have hoped for. From organizing delivery routes to wrapping hundreds of presents, carving turkeys, creating the meal bags, preparing our food, and keeping our space organized were a few of the many tasks championed by our team.
We all have been fortunate to develop many relationships with folks who use our program and came for a Christmas Dinner. We received cards, gifts, homemade treats and even a five-dollar Tim’s Card. When friends who have very little disposable income are giving like they do, it truly humbled me that they are so very appreciative and caring. This gave me hope.
When our Christmas Dinner was being distributed through our wonderful volunteer drivers who were able to reach our isolated friends, they shared stories of laughs and thanks received at the door. The team at Wellington were able to exchange smiles and often happy tears with those picking up. We knew we had accomplished what we were hoping for: a sense of belonging and hope. That it was we achieved this year. We could not be more gracious for the community support that we received and the inspiring actions of our partners, volunteers and friends who came to us for a hot meal.
As we move into the new year, we at Wellington want to thank everyone who helped deliver this vision for us on December 25th. This was an inspiring way to wrap up a year that I hope will have seen more hardship than 2021 will offer us.
Remember to tell the positive stories. We have so many to tell, and often they inspire us to create positive change in our lives and communities. This is a positive story I wanted to share with you. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a Happy New Year Burlington.