Toques, turkey, handed out at UGM's annual Christmas meal
Union Gospel Mission says the holidays can be a lonely time for people on the Downtown Eastside
The doors of Vancouver's Union Gospel Mission opened at 10:30 PT Saturday morning for its annual Christmas dinner, but this year guests will be getting more than a hot meal.
"In addition to warming them up with this holiday meal, we are also handing out toques, handing out gloves and in addition we've been handing out our survival gear," said UGM spokesman Jeremy Hunka.
Hunka says the survival gear includes heat-reflective blankets, heat-reflective tarps, sleeping bags, thermal underwear and water proof jackets and boots.
"If they're homeless, this is probably the place they're going to be."
Today we'll be serving an astounding 3,000 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Christmas?src=hash">#Christmas</a> Meals to those in need. Thanks for making this possible! Stay tuned!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UGMxChristmas?src=hash">#UGMxChristmas</a> <a href="https://t.co/bqpqsNNRsx">pic.twitter.com/bqpqsNNRsx</a>—@ugm
The dinner has been a tradition for decades on the Downtown Eastside. This year there will be enough food for more than 3,000 people.
For some, it will be the only holiday get-together they attend this year.
Hunka says the holidays can be a lonely time for many on the Downtown Eastside.
"They're going to be reminded people care for them," he said.
UGM provides the dinner early in the season so it doesn't over lap with other services being provided over the holidays, he added.
"We focus on Christmas hampers later in December, but we really want to get as many people into UGM as possible," Hunka said.