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Rotary Club meal means more than just food

Seniors catch up with old friends at the annual lunch

For many seniors in Richmond, the annual Rotary Club of Steveston Christmas Lunch is an outing they look forward to all year long, said Dr. Doug Nielsen, a club member, as well as one of the organizers of the event.

"It's not necessarily about the food, but the chance to be with their peers and friends," he added.

"There are some seniors who don't get the opportunity to see their friends, except during this luncheon.

"It's about good fellowship, and for many who are shut-in, it's a fun social event."

Nielsen and his fellow Rotarians will spend the morning either decorating a room in the Steveston Community Centre or cooking turkeys, mashing potatoes and preparing vegetables for more than 160 guests.

The sixth annual Christmas luncheon features a traditional turkey meal with all the trimmings, including mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and Christmas baking.

More than 25 Rotarians volunteer their time to ensure its seniors, 65 and older, have a wonderful time.

"All of our members really get into the Christmas spirit and this luncheon is an opportunity for us to interact with our seniors and treat them to a nice meal," said Nielsen.

The Rotary Club of Steveston fundraises throughout the year, and part of the funds raised go towards this free luncheon.

"We host many different events throughout the year to pay for our charitable endeveours," said Peter Mitchell, a fellow Rotarian and another organizer of the event.

He went on to say that there will be 12 student volunteers from McMath secondary's Interact Club, who will come by to chat and sing Christmas carols with the seniors.

Student volunteers also assist in the festive event by serving food to the senior guests. Last year, and every year, laughter filled the air when the volunteers and the guests sang Christmas carols together, added Mitchell.

"We also have Santa coming by with cookies and goodie bags for all of our guests," added Mitchell.

One year, Raintree Day Spa donated five gift certificates and all the winners were ladies in their nineties, said Mitchell.

"One of the winners was a 96-year-old senior," he said. "She was absolutely thrilled."

So far, the club has signed up 170 seniors, which means they are fully booked.

"For us volunteers, it's our opportunity to give back to seniors in the community who have given so much to Richmond," added Mitchell. "When we researched where our guests were coming from, we found out many have lived here 30, 40 and more years.

"To be honest, I don't know who has more fun, our guests or us."

The Rotary Club of Steveston Christmas Lunch happens on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Steveston Community Centre. The lunch is fully booked. If you are already registered but need a ride to the event, call Peter Mitchell at 604-277-8882.


At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 23, the club features its decades-long Steveston tradition of hosting the Santa Claus parade through old Steveston village, and through the town site along Moncton Street ending in the Steveston Community Centre parking lot. They will also be collecting food and cash donations for local food programs at the Richmond Food Bank. Please bring your family and join them to celebrate the holiday season. For more information about the club and its events, visit www.