Thursday, 20 September 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

A free Christmas lunch for the whole community

It is the middle of June, it is winter, and the last thing on most people’s minds is Christmas. Apart from a few people in the community, that is… A group of Whitianga residents are already planning Christmas lunch, with one thing in mind - other people.

For most, Christmas is filled with fun, family and lots of food. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and every year there are people out there who are lonely or hungry, or both, on what is arguably the most festive day of the year.

Maureen Kerr and Tania Iti from the Mercury Bay Community Support Trust have on Thursday last week come together with Dorothy Preece and John and Madeleine Saunders from St Andrews Community Church and Yvette Simpson from Whitianga Social Services to discuss and start planning a free lunch on Christmas day this year in the Whitianga Town Hall for anyone who would like to join. "So far, everyone I've spoken to about possibly getting involved in the lunch has said that they’ve been wanting to do something like this for such a long time," says Maureen. "They’re excited by the idea!”
The idea is purely selfless and can only be of benefit to the community. No matter your situation, there is always someone facing something similar. And why spend a wonderful day like Christmas feeling alone, when you’re not?

"Hunger and loneliness are two things no one should be worried about on Christmas and this year no one in the community will have to," says Maureen.

Transport will be provided on the day for those who need it, although that will need to be booked in advance. It will also be helpful if people can book a seat at the lunch in advance, although it will be perfectly in order to turn up as well. “The lunch is for the whole community, no matter their circumstances,” says Maureen. "It's something exciting for our town to look after each other on Christmas day."

The lunch won’t be the first of its kind on the Coromandel Peninsula. For the past seven years, Adrian Catran, the owner of Twentymans Funeral Directors, has organised a free Christmas lunch in Thames, called "A Place at the Table." Adrian himself has felt the pain of being alone on Christmas and he decided he wanted to do something so no one around him had to ever feel that way. Adrian has already confired that he is happy to help where he can to make sure the first Whitianga lunch will also be a success.

If you would like to be a part of this kind and special event, there are many ways you can help. In addition to donations of food and financial support, people will be needed for food preparation and cooking, setting tables, serving, cleaning up and packing down. Even if all you can do is to fold the napkins, your help is wanted and will be valued. Please contact Maureen at email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or telephone (027) 246 6164 if you want to make a donation or help out.

At the "Honouring our Volunteers" service that was held at St Andrew's last Sunday morning, an amount of $593 was raised for the first free Christmas lunch in Whitianga. That was hot on the heels of a local business owner who pledged $1,500 when he heard that the lunch is being planned.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.