After 35-plus years, there will not be a Christmas Day dinner in Altona this year.
Ang Stoesz has been leading the organization of the annual dinner for most of those years and says the decision not to have one this year was a difficult one.
"It took a long time to come to this decision," she said. "I talked to the people who I worked closest with; they too were ready to step back. So, I said, at some point we have to make the decision."
The annual free dinner first started at Four Winds restaurant over three decades ago before moving to the cafeteria at W.C. Miller Collegiate for many years and, finally, to the Rhineland Pioneer Centre. Stoesz says getting volunteers to lend a hand on that day each year was never an issue.
"We had families volunteer. We had seniors volunteer," she said.
"I just have to say a big 'thank you' to all those who volunteered. Some of them have been volunteering almost as long as I have. Without volunteers you don't get anywhere. Thanks to the churches who provided the food or monetary donations so we could buy the food. It was a great experience."
As well, Stoesz say the number of people who enjoyed the dinner grew each year.
"Last year I think we had 275 people. So yeah, it's a great thing. People loved it. We had lots of seniors. As we know, often seniors don't have Christmas on Christmas Day, so they came. We had a good time."
Ideally, Stoesz hopes this will be a transition year for the dinner with another group of volunteers ready to take the reins in 2024.
"If there is someone who would like to take it on. I have 35 years' worth of notes," she said, adding she is more than willing to be a resource for the new group.
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