New Year’s Day was a time of fellowship at the Old Iron Horse restaurant where owner Tom Lam held a community lunch as a way to pay it forward. Here Lam poses with wife Michelle and son Ethan. This was the fourth annual community lunch hosted by Lam.

Community lunch at Old Iron Horse in Ponoka

Local Ponoka restaurant pays it forward with New Year's Day community lunch.

Paying it forward in the New Year was a special community lunch hosted at the Old Iron Horse Restaurant.

This was the fourth year for owner Tom Lam, who hosted the New Year’s Day lunch. It was intended to be a way to pay-it-forward and show gratitude to customers and the community. Lam says after four years he enjoys providing a place for individuals on a special New Year’s Day.

“I don’t like to see people go alone,” said Lam. “This is the day to show my appreciation to the community.”

The free lunch is open to the community and Lam reached out the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse to ensure members know it’s being hosted.

“It’s probably the most rewarding day of the year,” said Lam.

“I’m not asking people for anything.”

He feels there is a positive experience for those who take part in the event, having had one resident come up to him in the street and recognize him for the effort.

Lam took time to visit with guests while his wife, Michelle, and son, Ethan, as well as staff volunteered their time to help out at the buffet or to assist guests.

“I’d like to see more of this around town,” said Lam.

“My mission is to help the less fortunate.”

Lam also takes in donations from guests and the money goes to different community programs. Last year the donations went to a Ponoka emergency fund for individuals having to deal with personal emergencies or crisis.

“This year, all the money that we collect we buy food and donate it to the Ponoka Food Bank,” said Lam.

Last year he saw about 150 people attend the lunch and he expected about 200 for this year.