Hope Mission was filled to capacity with the first of a series of Christmas banquets planned for December.
Benny Kiza, who leads the shelter and support services for Hope Mission spoke to APTN News moments before the doors opened for dinner.
“This is just a time to celebrate. A time to just show the dignity and respect and bring the joy of Christmas to the community members that come to our doors,” said Kiza.
This evening had two seatings for dinner that totalled 500 meals served.
It was a night of music and Santa. A two-person band played Christmas carols while the group ate.
Funding for the event was provided by Edmonton lawyer James H. Brown in memory of his wife.
When the doors opened, rows on rows of tables and chairs quickly filled up with hungry community members.
There were 60 volunteers on hand to serve the turkey with all the fixings.
“Since this summer we’ve had really high numbers of participants of community members staying overnight. We are talking about in the summer we were looking at the high 600, 700..we’ve reached 800 community members overnight staying in our shelters. It’s not winter yet per say, but we’ve been consistently at 800 people,” said Kiza.
Hope Mission, a Christian organization has been open for nearly a century. They say that they have always relied on the kindness of people to help them—and now due to a growing demand for their services, which include housing, counseling, clothing, and emergency care, they need the generosity of the community.
Kiza says that people can give financially to Hope Mission, volunteer their time, or by donating clothing items.
“It’s going to get really cold really soon, so we are talking about serving hundreds and thousands of people. If you look at the months of the winter , so giving out clothing, giving out toques and jackets and hygiene products,” he said.