A Langley tradition for 24 years now, the St. Joseph’s annual community Christmas dinner will be held at the church on Christmas Day – with a new chef behind the scenes.
Matt Hinkle will take on one of the most important roles of the day as he, and a small army of volunteers, work to feed close to 250 people.
Everyone in the community is welcome to attend the free event at the Roman Catholic church in downtown Langley City (207th Street and Fraser Highway), explained Deacon Dan Ritchie. He noted that doors open at 4 p.m. with dinner at 5 – sharp.
“The core of the volunteers [at the dinner] do the weekly soup kitchen,” he said. “They are living out their faith by giving to others.”
This year, Ritchie is taking up the reins of coordinating the dinner. He’s done it before, but noted it came around to be his turn again this year.
“We get a lot of volunteers who come out to this event,” Ritchie said. “Most of them are [from the parish] but quite a few are from the community. Various people over the years have coordinated the dinner, it’s a lot of fun. I just enjoy it.”
Giving to others is something that appealed to Hinkle. He used to work at popular local restaurants but became worn out by the erratic hours. So, now he’s works at Acura Langley and helps make this dinner possible.
“I’ve thought about it for a while,” he said of helping at a Christmas dinner. “I just never got around to it. I consider myself fairly capable in the kitchen so why not share it with others?”
His initial thought was simply to see if there was a dinner in Langley where he could help. So, he used Google to find a charity Christmas dinner, discovered the contact information for St. Joseph’s, and made the call to see what he could do.
“The couple doing it [cooking] for the last couple of years couldn’t do it this year,” he said. “Now it sounds like I’ve got my whole family coming to help me, as well.”
Hinkle’s family doesn’t have a really big get-together for Christmas, but his volunteering at the dinner is creating just that.
Even his 88-year-young grandmother is going to help.
He’s checked out the kitchen and is feeling confident – with the support behind him – that it will be a great feast.
“Everything is donated by the parishioners,” said Ritchie. “Santa is going to make a special appearance. There will be all kinds of things to hand out to people, and a choir is coming out.”
CN has provided a number of donations of T-shirts and other items Ritchie will use as prizes for the quiz they do at the tables.
Ritchie explains that once the volunteers have served the guests – who consist of those who are homeless, seniors, addicted, and lonely individuals looking for a place to share a meal – they will sit down at a table with the guests to share some time together.