About 300 people came out for the Bonnyville Canadian Native Friendship Centre's (BCNFC) annual Christmas dinner on Dec. 18 for an evening of food, celebration and even a visit from jolly old Saint Nick.
With the big turnout and community support, the centre's executive director Dianne Youngchief said this year's dinner was very successful.
“The donations have just been tremendous this year,” said the BCNFC board president Patsy Gladue.
People donated food and money towards turkeys, hams, potatoes, vegetables, treats and other food for the dinner at the Beaver River Fish and Game building. There were also enough toys for 50-60 children, even for those that didn't register in advance.
Santa Claus made an appearance after dinner to hand out gifts, but not before asking the children to say “thank you” for the meal.
One by one, children went up and sat on Santa's knee and received a present. Even a few adults ended up on Santa's knee.
Before the meal, Francis Dumais blessed the food and members of the Bonnyville Aboriginal Youth Centre sold raffle tickets, hoping to raise some money for field trips.
But despite the good cheer, Gladue explained how there are a lot of people in need and how the centre's food bank supplies are depleting.
She commended Youngchief for her hard work, saying she has been “amazing.”