There’s less food on the shelves and fewer volunteers to help out, but staff at the New Life Mission are determined to serve up a Thanksgiving feast for the city’s less fortunate.
“We’re trying to keep the light on in the community,” Terry Butcher, the mission’s operations manager, said Thursday.
Butcher, his staff, and volunteers are preparing 15 turkeys and enough mashed potatoes, stuffing and vegetables to serve an anticipated 150 people at 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
In years past, the mission had by now acquired enough birds and food to last into the Christmas season, but Butcher said that’s not the case this year.
With only four days to go, Butcher only has 18 people scheduled to work the dinner on Monday. By now, he’s usually turning 30 to 40 potential volunteers away, he said.
“I usually keep about 30 for the dinner,” he said. “I could use another 10 for sure.”
So Butcher is putting the word out to anyone willing to donate a turkey, some canned or boxed goods, or their time — to please help.
“We would gladly appreciate any donations,” he said.
Food can be dropped off any time during the day at the outreach centre at 181 Victoria St. West and anyone wishing to be a volunteer is asked to phone 250-434-9898 and sign up.
“We can’t do it without volunteers,” he said.
There was a time when the mission would feed up to 350 people on Thanksgiving, but other agencies have taken to hosting dinners in and around the holiday, said Butcher.
But he doesn’t mind the competition because, ultimately, it’s all for the same good cause, he said.
Kamloops United Church hosts a dinner at the Fourth Avenue and St. Paul Street location on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Administrative secretary Sharon Huuha said dinners take place every Sunday, with as many as 130 people known to attend.
Huuha doesn’t know if this Sunday’s feast will have a Thanksgiving theme or not, but she expects a good turnout, saying the dinner is a social gathering for all kinds of people.
Thanksgiving came early at the Salvation Army’s Kamloops headquarters on Poplar Street. Major Wayne McTaggart said 108 people enjoyed turkey with all the fixings two weeks ago.
There are enough goodwill dinners in town on the day itself that it makes sense to give the disenfranchised an early treat, he said.
The Salvation Army will host a Christmas dinner at the church on Poplar on Dec. 5.