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Saving Christmas Dinner

For more than two decades, Communitas has hosted a dinner on Christmas Day for the people they serve who would otherwise be alone. Usually, more than 60 people gather for an afternoon of games, gifts, and carol singing and treated to a full ham dinner. Last year, because of the pandemic, this beloved event was re-imagined as a virtual experience and this year will be same.

A full ham dinner is always served at the Communitas Christmas Day dinner

Jeff Hirch is the chief human resources officer for Communitas. He has been involved with this event since it began in the late 1990s. He says that it is essential that this dinner happens on Christmas Day.

“It is so important that no one is alone on Christmas Day,” he says. “Even though we can’t physically be together, we still need to ensure that people who have no one else can still have a meal and others to celebrate with.”

Those who took part in the virtual Christmas Day dinner last year said it made an enormous difference. Kim Petroczi lives with an acquired brain injury and has no family with whom she can celebrate the season. She is grateful for the support she receives from Communitas and values the friendships she has made. To be remembered at Christmas time was special.

It was so wonderful to be part of the Christmas Day Dinner last year. I felt so loved and so tremendously grateful. – Kim, Christmas dinner guest

Although she wishes that everyone could gather in person, she is grateful that Communitas is making sure people are still connected while staying safe. Fran McGuckin agrees. She also lives with an acquired brain injury and is an immune-compromised senior. Fran says she normally would have spent Christmas Day with family but Covid made that impossible last year. She thought she’d be completely alone.

Technology makes it possible for everyone to connect

“Communitas saved the day,” she says. “We had fun in the morning, playing bingo and chatting with each other on Zoom. Then Communitas delivered an awesome lunch, along with unexpected gifts and a card. I felt overwhelmed, deeply humbled, and grateful that Communitas angels saved Christmas for me.”

This year’s event will take on a similar structure. Guests will meet via Zoom to participate in beloved activities like BINGO and a carol-sing. While everyone is enjoying this part of the party, volunteers will be cooking, packaging, and delivering that traditional ham dinner to everyone’s home so that they can all eat together. Along with their dinner, they’ll also received wrapped gifts that have been donated.

Donated gifts ensure that everyone receives something special on Christmas Day

Whether it’s an in-person event or virtual, the Christmas Day Dinner only happens through the dedication of volunteers. Jeff is grateful for the deep commitment of staff and volunteers who make this possible.

“We just couldn’t do this without these dedicated volunteers, some who have been doing this every Christmas since it began,” he says. “People jump in without hesitation and we are really, really thankful for each one. It will make this Christmas special.”

Financial gifts supporting the Communitas Christmas Day Dinner are gratefully received.

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