Nfld. & Labrador

Coming together to 'make people happy at Christmas' in St. John's

Many people in this province are making sure people down on their luck will have hot meals and presents to share this Christmas, including two businesses in St. John's.

Local businesses working to provide free meals and necessities this season

Debbie Dwyer and Gerard White say they enjoyed the delicious free food and bag full of donated necessities from Adelaide Oyster House in St. John's on Christmas Eve. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

On the day before Christmas, a number of households are busy preparing vegetables and trimmings for turkey dinner. 

And a number of individuals and organizations are working hard to make sure no one in this province is going without this year. 

Gerard White and Debbie Dwyer were two people enjoying free turkey soup, chili, sweets and as much clothing and toiletries as they needed at Adelaide Oyster House on Tuesday afternoon in St. John's. 

"Thank you very much, we don't know what we'd actually do without people like that. It'd be a lot harder to get by," said White. 

"We hope they have a merry Christmas!" Dwyer said, pointing to the restaurant on Water Street. 

"Yes and merry Christmas, hope Santy Claus is good to 'em all!" White added before they headed home in the snow. 

Megan Furlong, general manager of Adelaide Oyster House on Water Street in St. John's, says they collected donations of clothing, toiletries, and food to give out at their annual Soup and Sweets event on Christmas Eve. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

Restaurant general manager Megan Furlong says they've been doing it since 2016, with roughly 100 people coming through each year. 

"We're downtown, so we see the need, I think, a little more than a lot of businesses that might not be down here in the thick of it. We know a lot of these guys by name, they're hanging out outside," she said.  

"So it's really good to give back, and to be able to create just like a family environment, a sense of community somewhere inside and safe." 

Turkey dinner for 600 people

"I just wanna make people happy at Christmas, that's all," said Scot Ryan, owner and operator of Montana's restaurant on Kenmount Road in St. John's. 

For the first year, he's hosting up to 600 people for a hot turkey dinner with all the fixings on Christmas Day, because he feels it's important to give back. 

Scot Ryan, owner and operator of Montana's on Kenmount Road in St. John's, says he's happy to be able to offer 600 free turkey dinners at his restaurant on Christmas Day. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

And he's partnered with Newfound Cabs and Bursey's Bus Service to provide free shuttle service to five community centres within the city, so people can get to Kenmount Road. 

Ryan said he's been blown away by the number of people calling up the restaurant offering to volunteer as servers for the Christmas Day meal. 

"Just out of the goodness of their heart that day, they heard what we were doing, and joe public just wants to come in and help. That surprised me and really touched me, it was awesome to see."

Montana's cook, Ljuljzim Berisa, has been helping out with the hours of prep work to get hundreds of pounds of food on the table Wednesday. 

Ljuljzim Berisa is a cook at Montana's on Kenmount Road in St. John's, and he says he's thrilled to help out with the restaurant's first free Christmas Day dinner. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

"Me and my family we don't celebrate Christmas — we grew up in a Muslim community, we don't celebrate as much. And plus, even if I was, I'd love to be part of something like this, this is something big. And in my culture we believe in giving back and helping those in need, and this is something amazing to be part of," said Berisa as he worked on mashed turnip. 

He'll be volunteering his time with Ryan to start cooking turkeys bright and early Christmas Day. 

"For anybody at all, for whatever reason, needing a meal that day," said his boss. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Meghan McCabe is a former journalist who worked with CBC News in St. John's.