By Jasmine Franklin
It’s been a community tradition for 13 years, but this year Ponoka’s bearer of cheer is asking for help with the 14th Community Christmas.
“It’s getting harder for me to do,” said Sherrie Mitchell, event co-ordinator. “I need someone, or a few volunteers, to come alongside me and learn; someone who has volunteered in the past and could keep this up.”
Thirteen years ago a tradition in Ponoka was born. Community Christmas is an event where with the help of volunteers and donations, a Christmas dinner for those who are alone, going through troubled times or simply cannot cook a turkey are welcomed for a Christmas dinner.
“Everyone is welcome — there is no criteria to come to this dinner,” Mitchell said. “You don’t have to phone, just show up.”
It all began when Mitchell saw a need to help those during Christmas — a time in which she herself was alone.
“I knew what it felt like to be alone during these times,” Mitchell said. “And I thought there must be so many other people out there alone with nowhere to go.”
It was Christmas Day and Mitchell was stuck working. Her children were off with her ex-husband and it just so happened two older men walked into her store. She joked with them about how lucky they were they didn’t have to work the famous holiday and that’s when they replied that it didn’t matter to them whether they worked or not — they had no where to go either way.
And that’s how Community Christmas began.
Everything about Community Christmas is a joint effort. With donations from local businesses, and the Town of Ponoka donating the Kinsmen Centre, it’s an atmosphere filled with support, and generosity.
“People come to our event who have just had a death in the family,” Mitchell said. “It’s times like that, when being alone without that someone is just horrible — that’s where we come in.”
Community Christmas has seen up to 150 people enjoying the festivities where there’s often a craft table, treats and entertainment.
Christmas Eve is when the set up and decorating commences. It begins at 10 a.m. and goes until the project is complete. Dinner is served Christmas Day, Dec. 25, at 1 p.m. and is open to anyone who wants to join.
But as life wore on and things changed for Mitchell, she no longer can take on the project alone.
Anyone looking to be a future organizer for Community Christmas, or anyone looking to volunteer or drop off donations, can call Mitchell at (403) 843-3638.