Rossbrook House in Winnipeg celebrated Christmas Eve with a big feast, gifts, and plenty of holiday joy.
The house is a drop-in centre for children in the city, and organizers say about 200 people attended Sunday’s festivities.
That was well over the 120 planned for, but executive director Patty Mainville said they were fully prepared for any outcome. “We’re not going to say no. And we do have extra gifts for those who come unexpectedly,” she said.
Mainville said the feast was put on by volunteers from the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy. John Giavedoni, a member of the Italian-Canadian fraternal organization, described the menu as, “roast beef and gravy, of course, some pasta, some meatless pasta, potatoes, vegetables.”
Giavedoni says he is happy to help host the meal at Rossbrook again, now that the program is back to being a community event after shifting to delivering hampers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s like a big Italian dinner that we’re all sharing. We’re all eating the same and eating together. And that’s just a good feeling.” he said.
Children who attend the drop-in program were invited to bring their families along for the meal and each child received a present hand-picked by a staff member they know. The children got a surprise delivery of more toys from the Winnipeg fire paramedic service.
“It lets them know that we’re here for them. Even though they may not be having a Christmas dinner, Rossbrook has got some and we have one for them,” said Autumn Batangan, a staff member who attended Rossbrook when she was child.
One of the Rossbrook children also commented on the importance of the facility’s programs. “Lots of kids, they need a place to go to because maybe they’re not having the best home life… Rossbrook House, it can give you that feeling.”
— With files from Global’s Iris Dyck
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