Thanksgiving dinner packed at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission

By Sarita Patel of Castanet

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission held a free Thanksgiving turkey dinner for 900 guests Monday from noon until 6 p.m.

The staff and volunteers have been working hard for the past couple of weeks in order to have what is historically the Mission’s largest meal.

“We’ve cooked 60 turkeys, we’ve cooked 20 hams, we have we’ve got 500 pounds of potatoes, we’ve got stuffing, we’ve cranberry sauce, mixed veggies and to top it all off we’ve got pie and cream,” gushes Mandy Phillips, Kitchen Manager.

The dinner is open to anyone in the community, which Randy Benson, executive director of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission believes is very important to give everyone a chance to sit down and get to know one another.

“When we can break down that stigma and humanize people then we can start working with the issues and look for creative answers. As long as we have that separation and we have that fear I don’t think we’re going to solve the issues of homelessness.”

“We’re maybe just one pay cheque away from that situation and also I think it brings some honour and normalcy to the people that we serve as well. So we want to encourage people to come together and really, we’re all in this together,” continues Randy.

City Councillor Loyal Wooldridge has been volunteering for two years now and believes coming to help out and interacting with members of all walks of life is the beginning of making a change.

“With some of the social challenges that we’re faced with in Kelowna, I believe it’s really important to get in at the ground level to see what’s actually going on because as policymakers you see information, you see reports but you don’t necessarily see and talk to the people that you’re actually affecting.”

Wooldridge continues saying, “this is a great opportunity to get out, get on the ground level here on Leon and talk to the people who need it the most.”

Volunteers are what make dinners like this possible and the Mission is always looking for more help.

“This place runs on volunteers basically, there are so many different volunteers from all walks of life but this is especially important because these volunteers come to take their time out of their days to actually serve the meals, which is incredible.”