Mosgiel folk welcome at city’s Christmas lunch

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Community gathering . . . The crowd enjoys a sumptuous Christmas Dinner in the beautiful surroundings of Dunedin Town Hall during last year’s Dunedin Com munity Christmas Din ner. PHOTO: ODT FILES

Organisers of the giant annual Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner at Dunedin Town Hall will open their hearts to people from across the city, including Mosgiel residents.

In the wake of the closure of the Mosgiel Memorial RSA, the Mosgiel Christmas Lunch has had to be cancelled this year.

Saddle Hill Foundation Trust community facilitator Joy Davis said the Mosgiel event, which has run since 2010 as a collaboration between East Taieri Church and Mosgiel Memorial RSA, had to be called off due to a lack of resources.

“Previously, the Mosgiel Memorial RSA catering team did the setup and prepared the food, and we would come in to help out and sing carols,” Davis said.

“But without them, we weren’t able to go ahead with it this year,” she said.

In the absence of the Mosgiel event, she was urging people to make other arrangements, take part in services, or to join the gathering at the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner in the town hall.

The town hall event is organised each year by the Acts of Kindness Charitable Trust, and welcomes people who find themselves alone for Christmas, or who are unable to prepare a festive meal for themselves.

Trustees Grant and Anne Hardy and John Watson took over managing the long-standing community event from founders Dave and Jean Brown, and this year will be the sixth time it has been held in the Dunedin Town Hall.

“We believe in the power of community and the strength of bringing people together,” Mr Hardy said.

“The event is really the community serving the community, and it is a wonderful occasion.

“With the Mosgiel lunch not happening this year we are expecting to welcome a contingent of Mosgiel people on Christmas Day,” he said.

The Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner has space for about 520 people at festive tables in the town hall, enjoying food prepared by Compass Dunedin chefs in the kitchens at Forsyth Barr Stadium and the Dunedin Town Hall.

An army of volunteers will also swing into action for the event, decorating the town hall, assisting with food preparation and service, and acting as table hosts and entertainers.

Mrs Hardy said she had already signed up a large number of volunteers and was at the point now of only needing kitchen helpers and table hosts.

“It’s humbling how many people want to support the event by volunteering _ we couldn’t do it without them, she said.

The trust was grateful for the support of DVML and Compass in making the Dunedin Town Hall available through the Community Grants Scheme and preparing a magnificent Christmas feast.

“The town hall is the perfect venue for such a special community event –  it looks fantastic all decorated up,” Mr Hardy said.

People who wish to attend the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner are asked to book by phoning Dunedin Community House on 471-6150, or online at dch.org.nz